AAHFRP offered the first post rehab course, the Medical Exercise Specialist workshop, in Washington, DC in 1994. The acceptance and usage of post rehab services by fitness participants, health clubs, medical professionals and insurance carriers has exceeded our wildest dreams. Our hope was to expose fitness professionals to the basic concepts in exercise management of common medical conditions. Now post rehab fitness has become a standard part of the rehab management model and we see more physical therapy clinics and hospital-based fitness facilities adding post rehab and medical exercise programs throughout North America.
The future of post rehab fitness and medical exercise services are bright. The aging of the baby boomers and the overwhelming numbers of hypertensives, diabetics and other chronic diseases will heighten the need for post rehab fitness and medical exercise services. Within the next decade we will see university exercise physiology and kinesiology programs offering concentrations in medical exercise and post rehab fitness. We will also see physical therapy clinics, sports medicine centers and hospital-based fitness centers establishing the “medical exercise specialist” or “post rehab conditioning specialist” as job titles within the organization with various levels of specialization and training. Insurance carriers will embrace medical exercise as a standard component of treatment for conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and other cardiovascular disorders. The same will be true of post rehab fitness for conditions such as osteoarthritis and disc herniations along with some surgical procedures including acl reconstructions, laminectomies and total joint replacements. Post rehab services will be utilized after physical therapy and chiropractic services once the client is medically stable and has received the maximum benefit from the treatment provided by the licensed medical professionals. Though insurance reimbursement will become common place for post rehab services, group programs will increase as insurance reimbursement decreases per session. Medical exercise specialists and post rehab conditioning specialists will become staff members in physical therapy clinics and sports med centers but licensure is quite a way off. States will begin registering fitness professionals. To obtain insurance reimbursement, post rehab professionals must hold the MES or PRCS certification as well as a personal training certification.
The next decade will one of tremendous growth for the post rehab arena. Opportunities will abound and income will grow but so will administrative tasks such as writing progress reports, documenting sessions and authoring progress summaries. This means a cottage industry will develop around post rehab fitness. Software programs, administrative workshops, liability insurance plans, practice management workshops and even lawsuits will become part of the post rehab phenomenon. Just think of it, higher incomes, greater respect from medical professionals, higher liability premiums and the need to practice defensively. Welcome to the medical community.