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Bridging Rehab with Fitness: Become the Trusted Referral for Rehabilitation Therapists

There are special and unique bonds that are made between clinician and patient in a rehabilitation setting. Many times, rehab patients are at a very difficult time in their lives and through months of daily expert guidance, hard work, education, and often even fun, alongside their rehab team, they make considerable gains back towards independence.

Because of this daily interaction, the rehab team develops a vested interest in the continued progress of their patient. Over the course of many months of the blood, sweat and tears of intensive therapy sessions, a friendship has been formed and considerable progress made together. It’s no wonder that rehab professionals are very selective with the fitness referrals they make once their patients are ready for the post-rehab world.

They are selective because they want the absolute best for their patient; they want someone with an understanding of their patient’s diagnosis; someone who understands medical precautions and contraindications; and someone who can safely continue to progress their patient without putting them at risk for a secondary issue. Though they may be selective with referrals, a trusted source for continuing their patients’ goals is needed.

Here are some ways to bridge the gap and gain the trust of your local rehabilitation professionals:

Require a medical or physical therapy release

Having medical releases before beginning ongoing sessions is an excellent way to open dialog with your client’s doctor or physical therapist and further, ensures that you are programming their fitness plan accordingly. Send your assessment with your client to share in their next appointment along with a simple inquiry form about restrictions or suggestions to use in your program design. This will go a long way in establishing a great level of trust and building a rapport with the clinic.

Volunteer at a rehab clinic

One of the best ways to build a rapport with local rehab professionals and patients is to spend time shadowing/observing or volunteering in a rehab inpatient and/or outpatient clinic. This can be a time-consuming start-up as many rehab clinics will have an orientation process and procedures to allow you to be present in a clinic, but it is definitely worth the time investment. Just being in this environment you can learn a lot about how therapists progress their rehab patients, guard their rehab patients during activity, interact with and educate their patients as they progress them to discharge (the point where you would continue their work). You may also get some valuable opportunities to learn from and build relationships with many therapists in one setting.

Lead warm-ups for local 5K races

There are 3.2-mile run-walk-and-wheels events that take place all over the country. Donating your time to your community Spina Bifida Walk ‘n Roll or Parkinson’s walk is a great way to become visible in your community and demonstrate what you have to offer for all abilities.

Speak at local support groups

Same as with the 5Ks, there are support groups that take place monthly or quarterly for stroke survivors, caregivers, individuals living with Multiple Sclerosis and more. Contacting the organizer of these groups and offering to donate time to speak about the benefits of continued exercise or even providing a no-cost group class during the scheduled talk time is a really good way to connect with both the organizers and their peers and those in attendance who would benefit from a continued exercise program.

Educate yourself on adaptive/medical exercise equipment

Understanding the different options there are for accessories and actual exercise equipment for stroke survivors or those living with spinal cord injury is another great way to demonstrate an understanding of working with a rehab population and continuing to bridge the gap between rehab and fitness. Not all equipment is accessible nor safe, so while thinking outside the box is great, ensuring safety is optimal. Take the time to learn about all the great adaptive equipment that can benefit the population you work with.

Host an open house at your gym

Host regular open house events at your facility and invite any and all rehab professionals, patients, and people from your community. Offer instructional sessions during the open house to demonstrate your adaptive programming/equipment. This is a great way give a sneak peek into what you’re doing to provide a safe environment for patients to continue their progress.

Offer to provide a lunch in-service to rehab staff

Meeting with a clinic full of therapists is an excellent way to educate those therapists that you have done your research, understand your population, and really want to bridge the gap between rehab and fitness. A presentation focused on the population you’re most comfortable working with (Parkinson’s, stroke survivors, etc.), the programs you offer, and pictures or videos of some of the work done in your gym. Bringing food is always a great incentive!

Bridging the gap between rehab and fitness is a process that is long overdue and much needed. By focusing on the points above you will be working towards and moving one step closer to improving the therapist-trainer model, adding a valuable resource to your community and providing a safe environment and safe programming to continue progressing your post-rehab clients.

This article was featured in MedFit Professional Magazine Winter 2020 issue. Subscribe to MedFit Professional Magazine to read more great content like this!

Devon Palermo is a leading authority on Adaptive Fitness for those living with or recovering from a disability. He is the Founder and Principal director of DPI Adaptive Fitness, A company focused on safe and effective adaptive fitness for individuals living with disabilities. With over 15 years of experience in both fitness and rehab, He is the go-to resource for clients, therapists, and doctors in the DC, Maryland and Virginia area looking to maximize the benefits of adaptive exercise to improve strength, balance, function and abilities. dpiadaptivefitness.co


Chiropractor’s broken back leads to back pain invention

After enduring two separate spinal injuries and the excruciatingly painful rehabilitation that followed, Scott Bertrand, DC, decided to take treatment into his own hands by inventing the AllCore360° System: a system designed to isometrically train every core muscle by leveraging the users body weight against the resistance of gravity during 360º full body rotations.

Before the idea for AllCore360° came about, Bertrand’s journey began with a leap — and ended with a fractured lower back from a skydiving incident during his time at the 101st Airborne Division in Kentucky. The physical therapy, according to Bertrand, was unbearable, and ultimately he chose to discontinue treatment.

About 20 years after that incident, Bertrand suffered a second debilitating spinal injury after diving into a pool and colliding with another swimmer. Recovering from a broken neck was just as painful as his first experience with physical therapy, which got Bertrand asking: Why isn’t there a better, less painful way to treat spinal injuries and reduce back pain?

That question led him to create the AllCore360°, the first medical system designed to rehabilitate the core with virtually no impact. The system engineers patients to perform balanced, isometric contractions in a 360-degree rotating plank without moving their body or applying pressure to their wrists, elbows or shoulders. It works by targeting, and therefore strengthening, the 50+ muscles in the core that surround, support and protect the spine and internal organs.

Because of its low-impact and core-targeting design, many chiropractors aside from Bertrand have found the AllCore360° to be an effective way to not only treat patients with back pain but to strengthen and rehabilitate athletes as well. At Gray Chiropractic & Sports Associates in North Carolina, the AllCore360° has proven to be a valuable new service for treating everyone from young athletes with sports injuries to retired athletes with chronic pain. In addition to benefiting patients with improved outcomes and faster recovery, the system now generates Lawrence Gray, DC, an additional $5,500 in revenue per month.

“The AllCore360° is a game-changer,” Gray shared with the AllCore360° team. “As a clinician, we have our everyday approaches, but we need to step outside of the box to invite different perspectives on the paradigm that we once had, and look at ways that we can enhance in a short period of time.”

Paralympian Curtis Lovejoy also found AllCore360° to be a beneficial part of his ongoing therapy. At the age of 29, Lovejoy was paralyzed from the neck down after a devastating car crash in 1986. Today, he’s a five-time Paralympics champion with 12 world records, 500 gold medals in swimming, and 200 gold medals in fencing. AllCore360° helped Lovejoy activate the nerves in his core muscles, eventually building strength that led to improved swim times and successful forays into fencing.

Hearing stories from people like Gray and Lovejoy is what it’s all about for Bertrand. Creating AllCore360° was a process that took two spinal injuries, many prototypes, and over 30 years of refinement. In the end, he considers it worth it, thanks to the documented results from thousands of successful patient stories.

Interested in learning how AllCore360° can benefit your patients and your practice? Head over to allcore360.com for more information.

Reprinted with permission from Scott Bertrand.

Scott Bertrand is the proud father of 2 and the grandfather to 3 fabulous people. He traveled to Atlanta after serving in the 10st Airborne to pursue a chiropractic career in the early 80s. After graduating from Life University in 1985, Dr. Bertrand happily cared for the chiropractic needs of a burgeoning city next to the world’s busiest airport, College Park, Ga. In 2011 he discontinued chiropractic care and focused on his passion to assist those who would benefit from core training and co-founded Alltrand LLC.  Alltrand LLC is the organization that offers his invention, the AllCore360, to the medical fitness world.