Have you missed a vital piece of the rehab puzzle?

Is your client struggling with their lower limb or lumbar spine rehab program? One of the most overlooked aspects of rehabilitation is definitely the benefits that are achieved through incorporating a sound nutritional plan.

I’m sure everyone has seen it, an injury leads to decreased mobility and deconditioning, energy expenditure therefore drops but the diet doesn’t change, and as a result, body weight increases.

We often assess these clients and identify that they’ve experienced deconditioning as a result of their inactivity and then go about the program focusing on their injury and potentially incorporate some cardio-based exercise to address the deconditioning.

I’m guilty myself of focusing a lot of effort on the client’s abilities and limitations, the tailoring and design of each of the exercises to ensure that the program suits the needs of the injury, incorporates objective measures and aims at achieving the overall goals of the rehab process (a lot to think about right…) and not saying to leave any of these out, but are we doing this and missing a really big piece of the puzzle by not placing some focus on nutrition.

I’ve experienced a fantastic result recently where a client managed to lose over 20kg as a result of combining a balanced nutritional plan with their exercise program. This took about 4 – 5 months and admittedly they started from a very high baseline (in excess of 150kg) and it wouldn’t be as easy for an 80 or 90kg person to drop this amount of weight but this fellow had a recent significant lower limb fracture and lumbar disc bulge complicating matters.

Our goal was, as his mobility allowed, get him as active as possible and work hard in the cardio aspects of the program, as well as his specific rehab-based strengthening exercises to try and drop the body mass as much as possible.

As a result of the combined weight loss and re-strengthening this fellow is now back performing all ADL’s including lawn mowing and walking the dog and I daresay this wouldn’t have been possible without the dramatic decrease in his mass.

What became evident to me after achieving this result is that as an Exercise Physiologist we could be guilty of dismissing weight loss as the role of a Personal Trainer and focusing all of our efforts on the diagnosed injury without addressing other lifestyle factors that are also impacting and slowing the progress of our programs.

It’s not rocket science, and I don’t profess to be a Dietician but unless there are some GIT or metabolic disorders present, balance the carbohydrates and proteins, minimize fats and sugars and get the energy expenditure above the energy intake.

Agree or disagree? Let me know by leaving a comment