An intense force on the waist might lead to a lumbar spine injury which involves the five vertebrae between the rib cage and the pelvis. The lumbar spine refers to the lowest portion of the spinal cord, consisting of the five vertebrae (L1-L5) below the thoracic section and above the minor sacral spine section. Symptoms of lumbar spine injury can range from mild pain to paraplegia with loss of function in lower limbs.
With the proper recuperative measures through rehabilitation, patients can regain their independence and increase their strength and mobility.
Lumbar spine rehabilitation focuses on strengthening lumbar muscles. Core exercises are done to enable spinal stabilization. An intense rehabilitation for patients who have undergone lumbar spine injuries generally involves the following treatment modalities.
Core muscle strengthening: Strengthening exercises are carried out along with psychological assessment, for a holistic recovery. Human muscles are comprised of two types of muscle fibres namely slow/aerobic and fast/anaerobic. Posture and antigravity functions of the body are largely determined by slow muscle fibres whereas actions related to agility and strength are governed by the fast muscle fibres.
A proper exercise program corrects muscular imbalance, leads to recruitment of muscle fibres, and strengthens muscles which helps in restoring the patient’s former functional capacity. These muscle strengthening exercises augment the recovery rate in patients with lumbar spine injuries.
Lumbar spine rehabilitation is generally designed after the diagnosis and prognosis given by the doctor and physician. The program is structured in accordance with the patient’s condition and the gravity of the lumbar spine injury. The role of the psychologist and support groups is of equal relevance and importance, as the exercises often exert too much pressure on the patients. Thus, the approach is one of wholesome recovery.
McKenzie method: In this, patients perform a series of lumbar movements and positions that consequently indicate their pain points and region of muscle weakness. According to that, pain-controlling exercises and posture rectifications are done for the patients. The McKenzie method implements directional preference exercises that aim to reduce pain, stimulate movement and restore physical independence.
Lumbar spine stabilization: Lumbar spine rehabilitation focuses on improving mobility and restoring vertebral strength and support. Spine stabilization programs assist in correcting the spinal curvature and also solidifying the posture. It is carried out to strengthen the trunk muscles that protect the spine. It is of major help to patients with chronic lower back pain. The types of spine stabilization programs are dynamic lumbar stabilization, Pilates with core strengthening, mat and ball exercises, and spinal neutral stabilization.
Robotic rehabilitation: Robotic technology is a crucial aspect of spinal injury rehabilitation. It is a motion-sensitive, wearable exoskeleton suit that help patients improve their posture. The Ekso GT is one such exoskeleton developed by Ekso Bionics for lumbar spine rehabilitation. They help the patients in recovering from their lumbar spine injuries. Basically, robotic rehabilitation is all about leveraging technology for the rehabilitative needs of the patient.
In rehabilitation program, the pain areas are addressed categorically i.e physically, psychologically and physiologically. The objective is to boost their morale and ascertain former strength and stability over time.