Multidisciplinary Teams in Rehabilitation – The Benefits of a Holistic Approach

Rehabilitation has been defined as “the sum of interventions required to ensure the best possible physical, psychological and social conditions so that the patients with chronic or post-acute disease may, by their own efforts, preserve or resume their proper place in society” (Tavazzi et al., 1992, as cited in Perk, 2000, p. 457). Health professionals may be inclined to focus on uni-disciplinary rehabilitation; however, an approach based solely on the medical model of health does not provide comprehensive care. Effective rehabilitation incorporates the involvement of various disciplines to treat the person holistically where the focus is on their level of functioning rather than the diagnosis (Momsen et al., 2012).
The biopsychosocial model is a health framework as well as a health practitioner philosophy that demonstrates the importance of the biological, psychological and social dimensions in relation to health care. A holistic approach to rehabilitation involves understanding the inter-relationship between the social, physical/biological and psychological determinants of health and allows a wider “whole-person” view, encouraging clinicians to recognise the individual’s experience with injury or illness and thus provide appropriate care to address the needs of the person in a greater life context, rather than treat only the physiological injury (Wright et al., 2016). This approach ensures comprehensive care is provided by identifying any psychosocial risk factors which may influence recovery or impact the individual’s level of function or participation at work, home or within the community. Factors to be considered may include available social support, health beliefs and coping behaviours, cultural beliefs and family or financial situation. The biopsychosocial framework indicates optimal management requires effective communication, engagement and cooperation from various stakeholders in the rehabilitative process (Kress et al., 2015). Health professionals play an important role in providing expert advice and services; however equally important is the individual’s role in decision-making within the rehabilitation process. The members of the health care team have an important role in facilitating the decision-making process and wherever possible, creating opportunities for empowerment, to foster engagement and participation from the individual in the rehabilitation process. In terms of rehabilitation effectiveness, multidisciplinary care teams have been shown to reflect higher patient engagement in decision-making, an increase in continuity of care and an efficient use of resources (Clarke, 2013). Increased participation by the individual can lead to better health outcomes (Lawn et al., 2013).

Exercise physiologists are integral members of a multidisciplinary team with a holistic approach to health care and rehabilitation. Along with appropriate exercise prescription, treatment assessment involves identification of the influencing biopsychosocial factors and potential barriers to rehabilitation. Exercise-based interventions have the additional benefits of encompassing multiple health -related benefits such as improving mental health, reducing obesity, improving confidence, positively influencing social relations and increasing community engagement.
Absolute Balance are firm believers in the multidisciplinary approach and frequently work within a team of Allied Health Professionals such as occupational physicians, physiotherapists and psychologists to ensure the best possible patient outcome is achieved. Absolute Balance empowers clients through innovative holistic health services supported by the latest evidence-based research. Our services provide education to clients, encouraging positive behavioural changes with a focus on improving their quality of life, functional capacity, ability to self-management and long-term sustainability to reduce the risk of illness and injury in the future.


Bianca Dobrich |B.Sc. Human Movement, Grad Dip. Exercise Rehabilitation
Exercise Consultant – Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP)(ESSAM)