Doctors prescribe physical therapy for any number of reasons. Whether you are in rehab after a sports injury, knee or hip replacement, pregnancy or arthritis, you'll get the best results by participating in your own recovery.
Find the right physical therapist.
Physical Therapists have different treatment styles, practices and personalities. Don't be afraid to shop around and ask questions. The practice who helped your grandmother after her hip replacement may not be best suited to your need to get back into athletic competition after surgical repair to your ACL. There's nothing wrong with interviewing a physical therapist or talking to other people you know who have experience with different practices. Finding a person or practice that suits your personality and goals will pay off in the long run.
Get the whole picture from your physical therapist.
It's amazing how many people just go to the therapist and passively accept the treatment plan without getting a full explanation of how the plan was formulated. When you are evaluated for the first session, the therapist is making a diagnosis independent of your doctor. Your physician or surgeon sent you for PT, but the therapist determines what it is you need, how many times you need to be seen and what the goals are. Don't be shy about finding out how your treatment plan was structured and why she thinks it is best. Some PTs are more hands-on than others. If your therapist is going to hand you off to assistants and only see you as the chief therapist for a short amount of time, be certain you are comfortable with that. You may want to find a therapist who gives you more individualized attention.
It's your body and your mobility and comfort at stake. It's perfectly appropriate to discuss what your expectations are and how therapy sessions will address them for the best outcomes.
Be a partner with your therapist.
Don't expect miracles if you don't do the work. Your therapist has designed a program to improve your mobility and quality of life. Do your homework, and if you don't, be honest about it. Your best outcomes will result when you invest in your own recovery by doing the work it takes to get better. Sometimes it will hurt, be uncomfortable and make you tired and even cranky. But your best effort to cooperate with your treatment plan and home exercises will pay dividends physically and psychologically.
Don't overdo it.
If one aspirin is good, ten is better - NOT. The same applies with working the muscles in your body. Exercise causes tiny tears in your muscles and you need the in-between days for them to heal. Don't think that doing extra exercises or doing them harder will improve or hasten your healing. It may prove just the opposite. Listen to your body, it doesn't lie. Do what your therapist recommends, she's the professional and knows what is safe and "therapeutic". Don't let impatience or eagerness to get back to normal sabotage the recovery process.
Keep track and get progress reports.
It's a good idea to keep a diary or journal of your therapy sessions and activities, noting how you felt during each one. Ask your therapist to give you an idea of where she thinks you are in the timeline in achieving your treatment goal. Your motivation will increase as you see positive results. Don't allow small setbacks to discourage you. Remember how you felt the first day and compare that to the improvements you can see and feel.
Make the most of this learning experience.
Your physical therapy journey will teach you a lot about yourself. Use your therapist as a resource for absorbing as much information as you can about what was wrong with your body and what it takes to make it better. Approach physical therapy as an adventure, (although sometimes a challenging one) and regard each session as a valuable lesson in managing your health. You'll find the ultimate outcome is much better that way.
Physical therapists are in huge demand. If you are seeking to hire a quality PT, or are a therapist wanting to make a career change, contact us. And if interested in learning more about this and related topics, visit the Healthcare section of our blog.
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