When patients arrive at a health care system following a sports injury or orthopedic injury, they set in motion a process that determines whether they recover quickly — and with little or no future relapse — or endure a condition that lasts for years.
With surgeries, there’s typically a protocol from the orthopedist or sports medicine physician within the health care system. EXOS works closely with orthopedists James Andrews, Lee Kaplan, and Robin West, as well as top physicians with a growing number of health systems powered by EXOS. In such cases, the EXOS site is under the same roof.
A patient can undergo surgery on one side of the building, complete physical therapy in another part of the facility, and then continue on the road to full recovery at the EXOS performance center. Not only does this provide an integrated path from injury to full recovery, but it keeps the patient in the health care system, perhaps long-term as a performance client.
The traditional physical therapy model, especially following automobile accidents, is for the injured person to go through eight to 12 sessions of treatment before being turned loose to continue on their own.
“There’s a small percentage of the population that will do a home exercise rehab program religiously,” says Graeme Lauriston, physical therapy director for pro/elite sports at EXOS. “We educate clients on what they can do, what to avoid, and how to hold themselves accountable for their recovery.”
EXOS coaches start by putting clients, whether injured or not, through a Functional Movement Screen to determine whether they need to see a physical therapist. Instead of examining or treating the injury as an isolated ailment, EXOS looks at the big picture, often evident through the FMS, to see if the injury is a symptom of larger dysfunctional movement patterns.
From there, EXOS creates an integrated treatment plan that can involve physical therapists, trainers, massage therapists, and registered dietitians, all working together with the medical staff. “It’s a patient-centric approach to restoring function and getting them back to full, pain-free function,” Lauriston says.
Patients, including athletes at the elite level, often give little thought to the role of nutrition in the recovery process. An anti-inflammatory diet, however, can expedite the recovery process while a poor diet can hinder it. EXOS dietitians provide athletes with a nutritional evaluation and plan that, if followed, can be as important as any part of the recovery process.
EXOS’ four pillars of mindset, nutrition, movement, and recovery organize the process. Most elite athletes have the mindset that they will recover — their careers depend on it, after all. But the weekend warrior and everyday patients for whom such injuries aren’t so common might be less committed and more frustrated, making the risk of reinjury greater and the role of therapist even more critical.
“Success comes down to being very proactive on the communications front,” says Lauriston. “If the patient and therapist aren’t on the same page, that’s when reinjuries occur.”
EXOS’ movement programming helps build pillar strength, a lack of which either contributed to the injury or resulted from it due to inactivity following the injury. By continuing to follow the movement programming, as well as the rest of the integrated system, the patient should make a full recovery and minimize the potential for future reinjury.
“It’s a structured, systematic approach to rehab,” Lauriston says. “But the key is not to think of it as a process that ends.” In this way, EXOS’ approach provides a continuum of care that differs from traditional outpatient physical therapy. “Depending on the injury, clients need to do certain things on a regular basis to make sure they have the best chance of avoiding flare-ups or another injury. If they can do that, there’s no reason they shouldn’t come out of this process stronger than ever.”
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