The patient-therapist relationship is vital to the success of the patients' plan of care. Although that theory may seem obvious, the value of a functional relationship between a PT and their patient is sometimes neglected whether consciously or unconsciously. Good service is invaluable!
So how do we develop this relationship?
Open Dialogue: From the initial evaluation all the way to discharge, therapists and their respective patients should be continuously discussing the progression of their therapeutic program. Therapists should be assessing what's giving positive results, no results, or negative results.
Education: Therapists should be consistently keeping their patients aware and engaged by educating them on what may be causing any symptoms, the plan to treat it, why they're doing what they're doing, and what to expect from it all. Being that a therapeutic program has time limitations, it's also quite essential and beneficial for the patient to be given lasting information to take from their care in order to be responsible for their health in the forthcoming days after they have been discharged.
Accountability: On the other hand, therapists are not the only takers to responsibility. Patients MUST be willing to trust in the therapist's creative plan, follow the therapist's guidance, and take the initiative to perform their Home Exercise Program (HEP) regularly. Patients should be open enough to tell therapists how they feel about their current treatment program. I ask my patients how they feel about their treatment at almost every subsequent appointment.
When there's a good communicative relationship between the two parties, it creates a larger potential for a successful therapeutic experience even if physical therapy is determined to not be the cure to their specific disorder. As a Physical Therapist, I think I can speak for a grand number of other therapists when I say we find gratification in gratifying. Personally, it serves as a humbling reward for a patient to express gratitude for how they were treated throughout the patients' tailored program. It is the fuel that keeps my wheels turning (or my hands mobilizing to keep things in perspective).
Clifford Civil, PT, DPT, ACSM-HFS