Physical therapy for an injury, an ongoing condition or following surgery is a new experience for many of our patients. We want to do everything we can to help them get better, and certainly, that’s the patient’s goal also.
As with most aspects of medicine, physical therapy is a team effort: you and I working toward the same goal. Here are six things I’ve learned a patient can do to be prepared for successful physical therapy.
Be Ready to Trust Your Therapist
Physical therapists are experts on how the body moves and stabilizes from the most basic task of sitting to the dynamic and powerful movements of an athlete.
Their education is intensive and can be as high as a doctorate with emphasis in a specialty. The attention to detail and skilled therapeutic exercise prescription coupled with manual techniques are selected specifically for each patient’s presentation.
Remember, people see their physician not because of pain but because of an inability to complete a certain/specific task. Most people are driven to be active and independent, which can be impeded by a functional limitation. That functional limitation is what physical therapists are capable of restoring.
Wear Proper Attire
Wear loose-fitting clothing so we can get access to the body parts requiring physical therapy. Also, wear appropriate footwear (shoes with good support) for every physical therapy session.
You’ll Have To Do Some Work
Patients are personally responsible for their recovery. Physical therapists can provide the necessary cues and skilled therapeutic exercise prescription, but the patient needs to apply what he/she learns into everyday life.
On average, patients come to a physical therapy clinic 1-2 times per week and each session is about one hour. That leaves 166 hours a week where the patient needs to be personally accountable to complete their home exercise program and apply the postural/activity modification training from their physical therapy sessions.
We will certainly encourage you with your home exercise program and lifestyle changes, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you to do it.
Be Prepared to Communicate
Be aware of your symptoms and be ready to answer these questions:
- Where does it hurt?
- What time of day?
- What makes you feel better?
- What makes you feel worse?
- Can you describe the pain?
- Does it hurt on the weekend when you’re not working versus when you are working?
- Does the type of pain change throughout the day?
You Might Have to Change Daily Habits
Physical therapists change the way people move. Activities that we do every day can cause the ailment directly and/or indirectly. Skilled cues from your physical therapist can correct these “bad” habits which will result in reduced pain and/or improved functional ability.
The primary cause of most chronic pain can be due to poor posture. Physical therapists can exploit these habits and provide alternatives to give ease and reduced symptoms to the patient.
These postural modifications can be temporary, as needed or permanent. It’s different and specialized for every patient.
Know Your Insurance
People tend to think that their insurance coverage for physical therapy is just the same as it is for their physician or hospital services, but it’s often different. Limit financial surprises and hardship by calling your insurance company before you begin physical therapy. So, know your insurance. Know what it covers and what it doesn’t.