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URMC / Encyclopedia / Content

Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation

What is musculoskeletal rehabilitation?

A musculoskeletal rehabilitation (rehab) program is supervised by a team of medical professionals. It is designed for people with impairments or disabilities due to disease, disorders, or injury to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, or bones. These programs can often improve a person's ability to function and reduce their symptoms. They can also improve their well-being.

What conditions can benefit from musculoskeletal rehab?

Some of the conditions that may benefit from this type of rehab may include:

  • Amputation

  • Tendon tears, such as Achilles tendon injuries and tears of the rotator cuff in the shoulder

  • Trauma injuries, such as sprains, strains, joint dislocations, and breaks (fractures)

  • Back pain

  • Osteoporosis

  • Arthritis

  • Bone tumors

  • Repetitive stress injuries, such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Joint injury and replacement

The musculoskeletal rehab team

These programs can be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Many skilled professionals are part of the rehab team, such as:

  • Orthopedist or orthopedic surgeon

  • Neurologist or neurosurgeon

  • Physiatrist

  • Internist

  • Other specialty healthcare providers

  • Rehabilitation specialists

  • Registered dietitian

  • Physical therapist

  • Occupational therapist

  • Social worker

  • Exercise physiologist

  • Psychologist or psychiatrist

  • Recreational therapist

  • Case manager

  • Chaplain

  • Vocational counselor

The musculoskeletal rehab program

The program is designed to meet the needs of each person, depending on the specific problem or disease. It's vital that both the person and their family are actively involved.

The goal is to help the person return to the highest level of function and independence possible. It's also to improve their quality of life—physically, emotionally, and socially.

To help reach these goals, programs may include:

  • Fitting and care for casts, braces, and splints (orthoses), or artificial limbs (prostheses)

  • Exercise programs to improve range of motion, increase muscle strength, improve flexibility and mobility, and increase endurance

  • Gait (walking) retraining and safely using a walker, cane, or crutch

  • Help with buying assistive devices that promote independence

  • Patient and family education and counseling

  • Pain management

  • Stress management and emotional support

  • Nutritional counseling

  • Ergonomic assessments and work-related injury prevention

  • Vocational counseling

Medical Reviewers:

  • L Renee Watson MSN RN
  • Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
  • Thomas N Joseph MD