Defining “Functional” in Medical Terms and How Your Rehab Team Determines You Are Ready

A functional restoration program is a medical approach or plan that restores your mobility to you after major physical illnesses, surgery, or trauma. A big part of that is your rehab program. This plan is designed by your entire functional restoration team, and it focuses on several meaningful exercises and approaches to helping you become fully functional again. However, functionality in medical terms is not the same for every person. How your medical team defines and determines your level of functionality may be very different from your understanding of the word/concept. 

Defining "Functional" in Medical Terms

"Functional" in medical terms examines your age, your weight, your previous abilities to move all parts of your body, and what your team hopes they can eventually restore to a functional level. It also refers to the maximum acceptable level of functioning you can achieve, under your given circumstances. For example, say that you are an eighty-year-old woman with osteoporosis and you need a hip replacement. You could not move well before surgery, and the goal is to help you walk again after surgery. Functional level for a person this age with these underlying health conditions includes the expectation that she will not be doing yoga, but she will walk better and with far less pain. 

The People on Your Mobility Team

Functional restoration or mobility teams include the surgeon that did your surgery (if applicable), your regular doctor for health conditions, a physical therapist, a dietitian (if your weight is going to be a factor in rehabilitation and healing), and a personal trainer who will help with exercises when you are limited to upper body- or lower body-only motion. If there is a psychological piece to the chronic pain puzzle, as is the case in a traumatic event that causes major physical injury, then a cognitive behavioral therapist and/or a psychiatrist may be part of your team as well. All of these people will meet to discuss your plan and how to help you move forward on multiple levels so that you can return to the life you had prior to surgery or trauma. 

How and When the Team Determines That You Are Ready/Have Completed Your Program

There really are no set parameters with such programs. Initially, your team may set up a program that is so many weeks or months long, but if you are healing faster or responding well to treatment, that time could be shorter. Regular evaluations by your doctor, physical therapist, and/or cognitive/behavioral therapist/psychiatrists (if applicable) will determine how well you are progressing. Eventually, the physical therapist and your doctor will notice that there is no further improvement in functional mobility and that you are without pain. At this point, they may decide that treatment for all things physical in nature is complete, and you will not see them again unless something else happens. 

As for any psychological issues, you may receive ongoing treatment. However, the therapist or psychiatrist may determine that you have come to terms with the psychological issues that were contributing to physical discomfort. If he or she feels that these issues are adequately addressed and/or resolved, then he or she will discontinue treatment as well. 

Most Programs Are Outpatient Programs

Most programs start at the point where you have either had surgery, been in a hospital, or needed inpatient care. However, they quickly become outpatient programs after your team has been established and your plan is put into place. It is rare for people to have inpatient programs for functional restoration unless they have nowhere to go where they can safely heal or rest as needed. If you think you qualify and/or need an inpatient functional restoration program, talk to your doctor.

Call a business like Inland Pain Medicine for more information about functional restoration program services.