The Biopsychosocial Model and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation

If you’re an exercise physiologist, physiotherapist, chiropractor, general practitioner, or any other health professional you undoubtedly would be familiar with the application of the biopsychosocial model (BPSM). If you haven’t heard of the BPSM it provides a framework that states the interactions between biological, psychological, and social factors determining the cause, manifestation, and outcome of wellness and disease. Application of the BPSM can be implemented in a variety of treatment modalities such as physical rehabilitation, mental health care, substance abuse, and many more. This blog is to provide clarification of the importance of the BPSM in physical rehabilitation and how it may lead to better outcomes for the client’s long term (Kamper et al., 2015).

The BPSM can be implemented both individually as a clinician or as a multi-disciplined healthcare team which can be influential in the treatment for a client going through an extensive rehabilitation program. As an exercise physiologist working within the worker’s compensation system applying and understanding the BPSM is extremely important, as it is an influential part of the clinical framework which needs to be addressed when treating clients. Ultimately, when sustaining an injury, the client’s physical component has been affected, normally causing a knock-on effect on the psychological and social components. These other areas need to be addressed whether its through the treating GP, psychologist, rehabilitation consultant or specialist.

A recent study conducted by Campbell and colleagues (2018) found that individuals who suffered acute whip-lash injuries became chronic injuries due to psychological and social barriers such as anxiety around the injury, unhelpful beliefs, poor sleeping habits and reduced work productivity. This study demonstrates how an individual’s psychological and social response to the injury can impede the rehabilitation and affect the overall recovery. Another study completed by Saragiotto and colleagues (2016) concluded that implementing a multidisciplinary team adopting a biopsychosocial approach was more effective for chronic LBP than the controlled group. The studies above demonstrate the importance of not just addressing the musculoskeletal injury but addressing the other factors that may be affected or will ultimately slow the recovery process down.

At Absolute Balance, our trained Accredited Exercise Physiologists understand the importance of the BPSM and how important it is when undertaking musculoskeletal rehabilitation. If you have any enquiries regarding musculoskeletal rehabilitation please contact the team today by emailing

David McClung

B.Sc. Exercise Science and Rehabilitation (AEP, AES) (ESSAM)
Senior Accredited Exercise Physiologist



Campbell, L., Smith, A., McGregor, L., & Sterling, M. (2018). Psychological Factors and the Development of Chronic Whiplash–associated Disorder (s). The Clinical Journal of Pain34(8), 755-768.

Kamper, S. J., Apeldoorn, A. T., Chiarotto, A., Smeets, R. J. E. M., Ostelo, R. W. J. G., Guzman, J., & Van Tulder, M. W. (2015). Multidisciplinary biopsychosocial rehabilitation for chronic low back pain: Cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis. Bmj350.

Saragiotto, B. T., de Almeida, M. O., Yamato, T. P., & Maher, C. G. (2016). Multidisciplinary biopsychosocial rehabilitation for nonspecific chronic low back pain. Physical Therapy96(6), 759-763.