How to Get the Most Out of Physical Therapy

There are often misconceptions about what physical therapy is and how to get the most out of treatment. Read on to learn more!

The first thing is understanding the definition of physical therapy as defined by the American Physical Therapy Association.

“Physical Therapy can teach patients how to prevent or manage their conditions so that they will achieve long-term health benefits. Physical Therapists can examine each case and develop a plan, using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability.”
Physical therapists provide patients with the tools so they can become independent and live a full life. The recovery process can be shortened with full engagement from the patient. The following are some simple steps to ensure you get the most out of any physical therapy treatment.

Understand your diagnosis
More often than not, when patients start physical therapy, it is because they have pain. That pain is a symptom, and there is usually a complex underlying condition causing the pain. After a full evaluation, your physical therapist will be able to provide you with a physical therapy diagnosis. The diagnosis will be what dictates the treatment interventions. These interventions will also vary slightly based upon the goals of each patient. A better understanding of your diagnosis will let you be an active part of your treatment plan. Your diagnosis will also determine how often (frequency) and how long (duration) you will need to undergo treatment.

Attend your appointments
During the initial evaluation, a plan of care is set with a frequency and duration of treatment. Appointments will be scheduled according to your plan of care. During these appointments, time is spent on specific treatments that often cannot be performed at home. This includes patient education, manual therapy, higher level exercises using clinic equipment, and progression of the plan of care. Your physical therapists will get to know more about your lifestyle and further tailor the treatment to be specific to your diagnosis and needs.

Each appointment is about more than exercise
When you attend therapy, you will perform exercises, but treatment is about more than just a workout out. Your physical therapist is there to help you learn about your injury, the healing process, and how to prevent future injury. There should always be a clear plan of what you as the patient need to be doing outside of the clinic to ensure a sufficient recovery.

Home exercise program performance
During your first visit, your therapists will create a unique written home exercise program for you to work on when you’re not at therapy. Our company uses an online program with pictures and videos of the exercises. Our software also allows the patient to ask the treating therapists questions between appointments if needed. These exercises are going to make the difference in the recovery process.

Be honest with your physical therapist
If any problems arise during treatment with things such as appointments, exercises, or changing pain, let your therapists know. They will work with you to better meet your needs. Even something as simple as telling your therapist, “I didn’t do my home exercise program,” will let them know that progression during that visit may not be the best course of treatment. If there is excellent communication between the patient and therapist recovery will happen more quickly.

Keep exercising
After completion of treatment, it is important to continue to perform the exercises. As long as you complete exercises once or twice a week, you will prevent regression.
These are some simple things that you as a patient can do to ensure you get most of the time and money that is spent on physical therapy. You are in control of your recovery. If there is something causing your pain don’t hesitate to contact us: 866-412-5554.

Content provided by Dr. Evan Reinert, PT, DPT

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