The Difference Between Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation

The Difference Between Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation

Written by Dr. Navid Hannanvash PT, DPT, ATC, CSCS, CAFS, FAFS | CEO & OWNER

The terms “injury prevention” and “rehabilitation” are often interchanged in casual conversation. But the truth is that although these terms share some of the same underlying principles, there are some important differences to your mind, your body, and (to some) more importantly: your wallet.

Injury Prevention

Injury prevention is the act of actively working to avoid an injury. As such, injury prevention’s main distinguishing factor is that is occurs in the absence of an injury. What makes this so important? One of the biggest barriers to improvement (whether it’s from a healthy state or an injured state) is pain. As such, injury prevention is an important part of catching injuries BEFORE they become painful. A Doctor of Physical Therapist is the leading expert in injury prevention because of their degree in biomechanics, movement analysis, and sports performance. Unlike many other health professionals, a physical therapists have spent countless hours understanding the links between each body part, thus giving them the ability to catch inefficiencies or discrepancies BEFORE an actual injury occurs.


Rehabilitation is the act of working to recover following an injury. The injury can be an acute injury (such as a car accident or ankle sprain), a chronic injury (such as a lingering shoulder or neck “kink” that won’t seem to go away, or following a surgery (such as a joint replacement or ligament repair). As such, the process of injury rehabilitation is commonly associated with the person/therapist’s combined ability to maneuver around pain. When pain, inflammation, or damage has occurred the rehabilitation process becomes much more complex and has to account for multiple more factors in order to become successful.

So why does it matter?

Your body and mind: I’m sure anyone that is reading this would rather find something and work on it BEFORE it becomes damaged, painful, and a source of stress in life. Whether an injury keeps you out of work for a few days, makes you unable to play with your son or daughter, keeps you out of your weekly community softball game, or just plain old affects your sleep, recovering can take a toll on the body and the mind. Finding ways to overcome these obstacles are invaluable gifts that a physical therapist can provide anyone in the community, but they still come at the expense of something impeding your daily life.

You wallet: As much as most people care about their body and mind, EVERYONE cares about their wallet. So why is that important? Because rehabilitation can be expensive due to the multiple providers involved. Whether it’s a primary care doctor, an orthopedic surgeon, a specialist, or a physical therapist (or most likely a combination of these providers), people spend time, money, and energy working to rehabilitate from an injury. On the other hand, if you can find something and catch it early on before damage occurs to the body, you save yourself the painful hours but also you save money. A few sessions of preventative care can save hundreds and thousands of dollars in long term healthcare due to the up front investment.

If you have any injuries or activities you love to do but are worried about the long-term implications, call us today to set up a free injury consultation to figure out if physical therapy is for you. If you have experienced an injury or have a trauma such as a surgery, call us to get started on your road to recovery.