Patient POV: Tips for a Successful Physical Therapy Visit
Oct. 13, 2015
Your patients view physical therapy in two ways. First, it’s one of the most important steps they can take to get better, and that creates a very high sense of hope. Second, they know it’s going to hurt and often be mentally challenging. As part of a physical therapy team, there are several things you can do to ease their fear and make appointments beneficial to your patients.
TALK ABOUT GOALS
One of the best ways to give your patients a more positive outlook on physical therapy is to talk about goals. You need to know what their goals are. This is often based on expectations from doctors and nurses. These should be specific, appointment-based goals. What will be done today? Next time? And, stick with them!
Physical therapy can be very painful, but in this case, it doesn’t always mean injury. Patients often see PT sessions as pain-inducing, not healing. Acknowledge that the pain they feel is important. Discuss why it hurts (improving muscles) and why this is a “good” type of pain. Ensure they understand why they feel discomfort and what that means to their specific injury or illness.
PROVIDE STEPS FOR POSITIVE ENERGY AND ATTITUDE
Perhaps one of the best ways to make these appointments more impactful is by encouraging patients to be full of positive energy and attitude. Are you helping to foster a positive outlook for patients and giving them the motivation they need to keep going? These tips can help:
- Reward the good. PT specialists and assistants themselves need to be positive.
- Focus on the improvements in small steps
- Talk about what the patient has overcome already
- Encourage outdoor activity, when applicable, for sun exposure
- Talk about the importance of having support
- Discuss what the patient likes to do and formulate goals to achieve that level of freedom
In nearly every situation, it’s possible to take even the most overwhelmed and anxious patient and put him or her at ease. Because physical therapy is so vital to the recovery of quality of life for many individuals, it’s necessary to engage patients openly and to foster a sense of “let’s get you back on your feet again.” Ultimately, this will create the best long-term outcome for the patient and ensure he or she is willing to come back in for appointments.
Provide your patients with exceptionally positive opportunities. Consider getting your degree from Concorde’s physical therapist assistant program. Your patients will benefit from your up-to-date education.