This may surprise you, but lately I’ve had patients that come for therapy and seem like they are just fulfilling a requirement. They have minimal questions, one word answers and frequently ask how much longer until they are better. Maybe they have had bad experiences in the past, or have lost hope of getting better. But with everything in life, whether its work, fitness, or relationships, we get the most out of things we put time and effort into. Physical therapy is the same.
I thought it might be helpful to give a physical therapist’s honest perspective on how you as a patient can be sure to get the most out of your physical therapy sessions. First, it’s important to want to get better, and to prepare mentally for the likelihood that it will take time and patience to get there. You should be ready to put in the time needed for appointments and a home program. Also, part of wanting to get better is being flexible and open to limiting or changing current workout regime if needed.
Secondly, ask questions! Ask why you are doing specific exercises or why your therapist is using a specific manual technique on you. This is a great way to be involved and learn about your body. After all, this is YOUR body and you only have one! You can also do your own research on the web and ask us questions about what you find.
Lastly, be honest from the start. If you can only make 3 sessions or there is no way your life can go on if you have to quit running then tell us. Open communication is a key part of a patient-therapist relationship. We can be flexible too. If you can only make 3 sessions instead of 10 sessions, there is a big difference in what your therapist might spend their time doing during your sessions.
I enjoy being a physical therapist because of the relationships I build with my patients and the opportunity it gives me to help and motivate patients. These things work so much better when patients are ready and willing to be active participants in the rehabilitation process.
Candice Amat, PT, DPT