Help Patients Learn Proprioception Post-Injury

Proprioception: Help Patients Return from Injury Faster

Imagine you are wearing a blindfold. Would you still be able to walk around? Could you swing a baseball bat or hold a basketball?

While most athletes are likely unable to score a three-pointer or hit a home run without their vision, a majority of the general population can still perform these simple tasks while blindfolded. Even without sight, your brain is still aware of the relative position and orientation of your arms and legs, whether or not you are moving them, as well as the level effort required for specific movements, all by using a sense called proprioception. While you may be familiar with this concept, many of your patients may not be and might not realize how proprioception impacts movement and function. Help patients return post-surgery to normal function by making proprioception an important part of your rehabilitation sessions.

Biofeedback To The Brain

Originating from Latin propris, meaning “one’s own,” and capio, meaning “to take or grasp,” proprioception allows our bodies to drive a car without looking at our hands turning the wheel or watching our right foot press down on the gas pedal. Any action that requires your body to move your limbs in an exact way without looking at them involves proprioception.

But how does it all work? Proprioceptors, the body’s sensors that help convey information about position, movement, situation and force, are located throughout your tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints. Proprioceptors are helped by mechanoreceptors in the skin, which help detect stretch, compression, vibration and pressure. All of these messages come together and are analyzed by your brain, which provides you with a sense of awareness of your body and its movement within space. Explain to patients that even though they are not aware of these processes happening simultaneously, the outcome of these messages create motion and awareness, the sense of “autopilot” that commands most of our days.

However, when you experience a muscle injury or strained ligament, proprioceptors can sometimes fail to detect and pass along these important signals, which can increase your chance of further injury.This is why it can be important for your patients to use specialized tools while rehabbing an injury so proprioception is not lost during the return to play transition.

Regaining Body Awareness After Injury

Just like any other motor activity, proprioception can be trained and essentially “re-learned” after an injury. Bauerfeind’s Train line of products increase proprioception by applying targeted pressure to your patients’ skin, activating the mechanoreceptors using both medical grade compression (found in the proprietary Bauerfeind Weave fabric) and viscoelastic inserts (including the stabilizing Omega pad in the GenuTrain).

Ultimately, patients succeed post-rehab by focusing on coordination and confidence. Regaining awareness of the body’s movements is essential to recovering from any injury. Help your patients get back in the game with Bauerfeind’s Train line.

Click here to read more about Erin Grigsby. The author’s opinions are their own and PT Aligned does not take responsibility for content statements and opinions. You should seek expert counsel in evaluating opinions, treatments, products and services. For more info see our Editorial Policies.

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