Sports injuries are common among athletes and can have long-term effects on physical health, and most injuries require rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is an essential part of an athlete’s recovery process and can potentially improve overall performance. Some medical devices, such as braces, electrical stimulation machines, and ultrasound systems, play a crucial role by providing targeted treatments for specific sports injuries.
Let’s explore a few of the most common medical devices used in sports injury rehabilitation and review their benefits when it comes to helping athletes recover from injuries.
Overview Of Sports Injury Rehabilitation
Sports injury rehabilitation involves various stages of care and recovery, intending to restore function to an affected area. Often an athlete undergoes three stages to completely rehabilitate their injuries:
- Evaluating the injury
- Providing initial treatment such as rest, icing, orthopedic bracing, and taping
- Progressing to physical therapy, exercise prescription, or return-to-play exercises
Rehabilitation also includes educating the injured athlete about proper body mechanics during activities of daily living, sports-specific movements, and stretching exercises that can help reduce the risk of future injuries. In some cases, surgery may be the treatment necessary for optimal recovery from a sports-related injury.
Types Of Medical Devices Used in Sports Injury Rehabilitation
Sports injury rehabilitation is vital in helping athletes recover from injuries and return to their peak performance levels. In this process, medical devices are crucial in providing support, promoting healing, and restoring functionality.
That said, below are various types of medical devices used in sports injury rehabilitation, each designed to address specific needs and facilitate the recovery process.
Wound Vacuum Device
Wound suction is a medical procedure used to remove excess fluid from a wound by using a wound vacuum device. It’s often used to treat sports injuries, as it can help prevent infection and promote healing. There are two main types of wound suction techniques or processes: closed suction and open suction.
Closed suction uses a small tube that is inserted into the wound. The tube is then connected to a suction device—like a pump from knf.com/en/us or a similar company—which pulls the fluid out of the wound.
Meanwhile, open suction uses a larger, open drain over the wound. The drain, just like with closed suction, is also then connected to a suction device, which pulls the fluid out of the wound.
Braces And Supports
Braces and supports have long been utilized to assist athletes in recovering from musculoskeletal injuries. The most commonly used type is the orthopedic brace. It provides stability and limits the motion of an athlete’s injured area or limb.
Another commonly used support rehabilitation device by athletes is compression garments. These specialized garments provide compression and support, allowing greater mobility than traditional braces.
Therapeutic ultrasound is a form of physical therapy intervention that utilizes high-frequency sound waves to provide therapeutic benefit. This treatment may increase an athlete’s range of motion and reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation in targeted areas.
Therapeutic ultrasound may also improve muscle flexibility, help stimulate tissue healing, and aid in scar tissue breakdown. These effects may also help athletes regain muscle strength after an injury.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Unit
A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit allows athletes and their trainers to apply electrical stimulation to their muscles. Electrical stimulation machines are a widely used physical therapy intervention that uses electricity. This injury rehabilitation process may promote healing, reduce pain, and restore the lost functionality of an athlete’s injured body part caused by muscle spasms, joint stiffness, and nerve pain.
Electrical stimulation is performed by using a TENS unit to deliver a small electrical current to the skin through electrodes in the form of small pads. This current stimulates the nerves to generate muscular contractions, which helps strengthen muscles and prevent atrophy while increasing circulation in the area.
Furthermore, electrical stimulation may also increase collagen production in injured tissues, which may aid in scar reduction and improve joint mobility.
Ice Packs and Cold Compresses
Ice packs and cold compresses are common occurrences in gyms and training centers. Their primary function is to allow trainers and athletes to take advantage of cold compression therapy—one of the traditional methods of rehabilitating sports injuries. It’s also used as first aid treatment to on-site sports injuries, as it only requires ice and an ice pack or compresses.
Cold compression works by lowering the temperature of an injured area. It numbs and makes the blood vessels contract or promotes vasoconstriction around the injured area, leading to reduced swelling and inflammation.
Water isn’t exactly a medical device, but it can be used to conduct hydrotherapy (and turned to ice for cold compression). There are multiple ways to use water for the rehabilitation of sports injuries. The most common ones used in the sports industry are thermal therapy, water massage (hydromassage), and floatation therapy.
Each of these types or methods may bring different effects. Thermal therapy promotes better blood circulation, improves athletic performance, and reduces fatigue. Meanwhile, hydromassage reduces pain and inflammation and relaxes muscles. And floatation therapy helps with body recovery and provides meditative effects.
Wearable Devices and Sensors
Wearable devices and sensors can be used to monitor and track various physiological parameters during rehabilitation, including heart rate, blood pressure, muscle activity, and range of motion. A trainer or medical professional can use these data points to assess the athlete’s rehabilitation progress and adjust their treatment plan.
These devices can also provide feedback to their wearers and their trainers during rehabilitation exercises. This feedback can help patients to improve their technique and to avoid re-injury.
Sports injury rehabilitation can be a long and arduous process, but thanks to the medical devices and the therapeutical rehabilitation processes they allow, injured athletes can recover quickly and safely. If you’re an athlete yourself and you know that your favorite sports can make you prone to pain and injuries, you might want to become more knowledgeable about the devices listed here.
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