By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When someone comes to my office with a muscle strain or a more serious chronic issue, I often get the help of a rehab specialist.

Rehabilitation is one of the areas of medicine that does not necessarily get the attention it should. But, without a doubt, a good rehab program can make a major difference in how someone gets better. A good rehab program can help people make dramatic improvements if started at the earliest and safest possible time.

Take a study that found it helps even in cases of routine ankle sprains. The study looked at ankle sprains and found that ankle sprains can cause acute pain and loss of function. Across the board, for people who suffer ankle sprains, 25% miss school or work more than seven days. But when they have rehab, that’s dramatically cut back.

Perhaps most important is that it gets the patient involved in their own care.

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