Therapeutic Exercise & Rehabilitation Guidance
In the simplest terms, therapeutic exercise involves movement prescribed to correct impairments, restore muscular and skeletal function and/or maintain a state of well-being. The scientific evidence demonstrating the beneficial effects of exercise is indisputable, and the benefits of exercise far outweigh the risks in most adults. For most adults, an exercise program including aerobic, resistance, flexibility, and neuromotor exercise training is indispensable to improve and maintain physical fitness and health.
Therapeutic exercise is one of the core skills upon which the profession of Physical Therapy is based. By considering definitions of therapeutic exercise, physical activity and exercise, it is possible to see that, although therapeutic exercise contains the components of both physical activity and exercise, it also provides a systematic exercise programme for remediation of impairments and improvement of function.
What is the difference between physical activity and exercise? Physical activity refers to the contraction of skeletal muscle that produces bodily movement and requires energy. Exercise is a physical activity that is planned and is performed with the goal of attaining or maintaining physical fitness. Physical fitness is a set of traits that allows an individual to perform physical activity.
Therapeutic exercise may include:
- aerobic and endurance conditioning and reconditioning;
- agility training;
- body mechanics training;
- breathing exercises;
- coordination exercises;
- developmental activities training;
- movement pattern training;
- neuromotor development activities training;
- neuromuscular education or reeducation;
- perceptual training;
- range of motion exercises and soft tissue stretching;
- relaxation exercises;
- strength, power, and endurance exercises.
All of these are combinable into exercise programs that work for many different types of patients. Different subtypes of exercises can help to increase effectiveness or allow participation of individuals with special needs based on comorbidities. eg. aquatic therapy for stroke patients with balance difficulties
Basic exercise prescriptions should follow the FITT mnemonic.
F – Frequency: number of days per week
I – Intensity: low, moderate or vigorous
T – Time: minutes per session for endurance exercise
T – Type: endurance, strength, flexibility or some combination