therapeutic exercise the scientific use of bodily movement to restore normal function in diseased or injured tissues or to maintain a state of well-being; called also corrective exercise. As with any type of therapy, a therapeutic exercise program is designed to correct specific disabilities of the individual patient. The program is evaluated periodically and modified as indicated by the patient’s progress and response to the prescribed regimen. Exercises affect the body locally and systemically and bring about changes in the nervous, circulatory, and endocrine systems as well as the musculoskeletal system. Among the types of therapeutic exercise are those that (1) increase or maintain mobility of the joints and surrounding soft tissues, (2) develop coordination through control of individual muscles, (3) increase muscular strength and endurance, and (4) promote relaxation and relief of tension. Joint Mobility. In the absence of a disability that prohibits mobility, the regular day-to-day activities of living maintain the normal movements of the joints. If, however, motion is restricted for any reason, the soft tissues become dense and hard and adaptive shortening of the connective tissues takes place. These changes begin to develop within four days after a joint has been immobilized and are evident even in a normal joint that has been rendered immobile. It is for this reason that therapeutic exercises to prevent loss of joint motion are so important and should be begun as soon as possible after an injury has occurred or a disease process has begun. Prevention of the loss of joint motion is much less costly and time-consuming than correction of tissue changes that seriously impair joint mobility. It is recommended that each joint should be put through its full range of motion three times at least twice daily. If the patient is not able to carry out these exercises, he is assisted by a therapist or member of the family who has been instructed in the exercises. Inflammation of the joint, as in arthritis, may cause some pain on motion, and so passive exercises are done slowly and gently with the joint as relaxed as possible. Procedures that stretch tight muscles to increase joint motion should be done only by a skilled therapist who understands the hazards of fracture and bleeding within the joint, which can occur if the exercises are done improperly or too strenuously. Muscle Training. Exercises of this type are taught to the patient who has lost some control over a major skeletal muscle. By learning precise and conscious control over a specific muscle, the patient is able to strengthen and coordinate its movement with normal motor patterns and thus enhance mobility. Muscle training or neuromuscular re-education demands full cooperation of the patient, who must be capable of understanding the purpose of the exercises, following directions, and giving full attention to the muscle isolated for retraining. The sessions are held in a quiet, comfortable atmosphere to facilitate concentration by the patient.