What is Accelerated Rehabilitation?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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In medicine, accelerated rehabilitation is a rehabilitation program which is designed to get a patient active again as quickly as possible in the wake of an injury. Such programs are often used by competitive athletes because they cannot be out of competition for the length of a conventional rehabilitation program. They are also utilized in industrial rehabilitation, in which the goal is to get someone back on the job quickly after an injury.

If a patient is a candidate for accelerated rehabilitation, the rehabilitation team will meet with the patient to discuss the nature of the injury and the goals of the rehabilitation program. If the patient needs surgery, rehabilitation may start right away with patient preparation and education so that patients can get into rehabilitation quickly after the surgery. If the patient doesn't need surgery or the surgery is already done, the team starts immediately with rehabilitation.

The goal of accelerated rehabilitation is to restore functionality quickly without reinjuring a patient. In addition, the goal usually involves long-term work to build up strength so that the injury will be less likely to recur, and to protect from additional injuries. Accelerated rehabilitation pushes the patient in the days immediately following injury so that there will be minimal loss of flexibility, strength, and tone. As the patient recovers, more work and exercises are added.


Physical rehabilitation can be grueling, and this is especially true of accelerated rehabilitation. The patient needs to be able to work hard on rebuilding strength and tone, without causing further injury. This requires cooperation, communication, and constant checkups and feedback to monitor the progress of the injury and the rehabilitation. In some cases, patients may need to be withdrawn from an accelerated rehabilitation program if it becomes apparent that they are not improving or that they are making the injury worse with the rehabilitation. Usually after the program is completed, the patient still needs to complete regular strength exercises and may need to make permanent modifications to lifestyle and activity levels.

The term “accelerated rehabilitation” or “AR” is also sometimes used in the legal system. When someone commits a minor offense and has no history of offenses, an offer of AR may be made. In this case, the defendant is placed on probation and at the end of the term, if behavior has been good, the charges are dropped. This essentially creates a second chance for people who commit mild crimes.


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