Trauma Rehabilitation and Its Synergies With Sport & Exercise Medicine

Although similar, there are important differences between Sport & Exercise Medicine and trauma-related rehabilitation. Expert Consultant in Rheumatology and Rehabilitation Medicine Dr Rhodri Phillip OBE outlines these differences to help you find the right specialist for you.

The medical specialities of Rehabilitation Medicine and Sport and Exercise Medicine (SEM) are closely aligned. Whilst the latter is a relatively new speciality, the two are both focused on maximising the patient’s functional abilities, quality of life and return to pre-injury levels of activity; Sport and Exercise Medicine practitioners just do it more often in the context of sport or exercise.

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NHS Rehabilitation Medicine has been traditionally more focused on neurologically related impairments and disease. Military Rehabilitation Medicine, on the other hand, has always had a strong musculoskeletal (MSK) focus, as a result of the issues seen in military training and active service. The provision of such services dates from the First World War.

Prior to Sport and Exercise Medicine having an established career pathway, military physicians were trained in Rheumatology and Rehabilitation Medicine in order to best deal with the myriad of musculoskeletal, trauma and inflammatory conditions that can occur at any age and mimic joint or soft tissue injuries.

These are always harder to identify in an active, sporty population — as new onset disease will often be associated with a sporting or exercise related event. Military Doctors continue to train in Rehabilitation Medicine along with Sport and Exercise Medicine, such are the synergies between the two specialities.

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So how do the disciplines differ? #

Well, Military Rehabilitation Medicine also deals with a lot of trauma related injuries. These can differ from a more classic sport or physical activity related injury in that they involve multiple anatomical areas and organs, disrupt multiple bodily systems, with these various elements impacting on a patient’s recovery.

These injuries often require multiple specialists working in partnership to achieve optimal outcomes. They also require an awareness of the potential complications and setbacks in order to proactively manage them.

Identifying the need for appropriate investigations or specialist intervention in a timely manner is always key to a good recovery. The main Military Rehabilitation centre has been, and continues to be, involved in training both military and civilian Sport and Exercise Medicine and Rehabilitation Medicine Consultants to ensure their exposure to such issues.

The long-term consequences of trauma-related injuries are still being investigated but it is already known that cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors can be greatly increased following trauma. These can lead to the early development in younger patients of health problems not normally seen until later in life. Early intervention from clinicians aware of these problems can reduce their impact and maximise good health.

In all of our clinics, we have a wide range of specialists, working together, who can collectively manage the variety of issues that can occur after a traumatic injury, as well as exercise related injuries.

With the support of our Consultants, you can also benefit from a case management approach to your overall care, ensuring timely interventions as required and onward referral to external specialists if needed.

At the end of the day, whether trauma or sporting related, the rehabilitation of any injury will always require a great team approach to achieve the best outcomes.

For more information or to book an appointment with one of our Consultants, complete the form below.