What is a Rehabilitation Therapist?

Dearbhla Gallagher discusses her role as a Rehabilitation Therapist at the Waldegrave Clinic in Teddington.

As a rehabilitation therapist I have studied for a 4 year honours degree in Athletic Therapy and Training. My entire training has been on musculoskeletal conditions and injuries.

For the most part I look at why an injury, pathology or pain is occurring. Normally I will identify dysfunctional movement patterns that go against “normal” or correct function and can often be the primary reason why a problem has occurred.

Why is rehabilitation important?

I often describe our bodies like a piece of engineering…think of a bridge. Every piece is put together with thought for what that structure must sustain. If something interferes with this (impact, inappropriate strain etc) then something’s got to give eventually.

You would not continue to allow that structure to continue to undergo undue stress in the knowledge that could be very serious consequences.

Your body is exactly the same.

If there is no known congential, genetic or pathological reason why the body cannot move correctly then it is simply a case of finding weakness or abnormalities and influencing them to adapt back to “normal”

What does your rehabilitation work typically involve?

At your first appointment I will go through a thorough assessment with you – starting with a chat. This is very important as it can give key indicators to why an issue has occurred, what may be preventing it from improving and much more.

From here I assess body posture. This isn’t just a case of looking at whether you slouch or not but identifying vital signs or malalignment in any area of the body.

The most appropriate approach to take is a whole body one.

Sometimes treating just the symptoms is needed, but they are just that – symptoms of a problem. The toes are connected the whole way to your head and fingers. Again like a house or a bridge, you can’t expect each part of the structure to be completely independent from the next.

They react to one another, sometimes assisting but sometimes act against them.

After this I assess the bodies movement and strength. This involves basic movements and sometimes more complex exercises so comfortable clothing is always necessary. This will give me a hit list of things that I feel are most appropriate to work on first.

Sometimes there are things which I feel are the most likely suspect in your pain or injury but it is not always appropriate to go after these immediately, usually due to pain. From this I prescribe an exercise programme. They are not exercises for the sake of it but are specifically tailored to your needs.

It is simple physiology and anatomy . If you do the exercises things will improve unless there is an unknown medical condition.

What do you enjoy most about your work as a Rehabilitation Therapist?

What I love most about being a rehabilitation therapist is that I can take people’s pain away without me really doing anything. My patients fix themselves with my support. It is extremely empowering for them to feel like they did it themselves.

If you are suffering pain or lack of mobility, you can book an appointment with Dearbhla at the clinic, call 020 8943 2424.



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