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Part 3: Differentiate your Physical Therapy Clinic with Elite Athlete-like Care

No Shortcut Physical Therapy Rehab

Key Takeaway:

In both Part 1 and Part 2, pro-cyclist Rachel Neylan highlights the significance of the "high performance framework" in elite athletic rehabilitation. This framework sheds light on the value of data for musculoskeletal clinic operators and owners. In this post she expands this discussion to addressing the softer aspects of rehab, such as effectively communicating to patients that there are no shortcuts in the recovery process. In today's fast-paced world, where attention spans are shorter, delivering this message becomes even more crucial to keep patients engaged throughout their entire care plan.

If high performance has taught me anything, that is there are no hacks, no silver bullets. No shortcuts.

My cycling career has been dotted with multiple setbacks, injuries from crashes and often in the early days pushing my body in the wrong ways at the wrong times.

As a physiotherapist who has worked with world-class athletes before becoming one, this in-depth knowledge of musculoskeletal physiology has been an asset to my athletic career. Call it luck or part of the skill set that got me here, this insight has enabled me to call on my experience as a practitioner multiple times throughout my career in my own rehabilitation phases.

When our bodies become damaged, a process of repair begins naturally. Of course, we always want to accelerate that and get back onto our feet as soon as possible, but we can only influence the body’s repair system so much. We can help it along, and that is what Physical Therapy is for, and home exercise programs. But everyone’s body has its own biological cadence.

When aiming for a successful return to physical condition it becomes important to respect the body’s repair process from start to finish. I've seen many patients/injured athletes reach 80% of their rehabilitation, leaving 20% undone. Cutting recovery short leaves, the body vulnerable to reoccurring or subsequent issues, and most often re-injury.

Through a combined lens of being both a practitioner and a professional athlete these are my tips for successful rehabilitation:

  • Establish a ‘return to optimal’ baseline from a previous measurement or performance

  • Use technology where possible to improve accuracy and reliability

  • Make a rehabilitation plan mapping out key milestones

  • Use objective data points to keep track of rehabilitation progress

  • Stay motivated by seeing improvement in numbers even if they are small gains

  • Take a zero-day once per week for full mental and physical recovery

Using objective data and feedback is mandatory to keeping motivated and engaged from rehab start to finish. It also allows the process to remain strategic and systematic when impatience takes hold of us and we want to ‘jump the gun’ to finish faster, or end care because we are ‘good enough’.

A great lesson I've carried with me is to always see recovery periods through to the end. Respect the enormous capacity of our exceptionally formulated human bodies to rejuvenate, recover and adapt.

For better health outcomes and differentiated physical therapy clinic care, it is essential we use all available techniques and technologies to communicate the importance of the long game in orthopedic rehab. No shortcuts.


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