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How Physical Therapy Helped Me

Getting the Most Out of Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy from a Patient’s Point of View

One of the most valuable persons on a patient’s health care team is the physical therapist. Physical therapy will help patients improve their mobility, range of motion, strength and flexibility.  Therapist can offer caregivers good advice about fall prevention and about mobility equipment suitable for patients with various kinds of health conditions.  Often the therapy sessions take place in your home, but they can also take place at a rehab center. You’ll need a doctor’s prescription before a therapist can treat you.

When you are beginning therapy, it is important to find a therapist who communicates well with you.  A good relationship between patient and therapist will help the patient believe in the therapist’s abilities and be motivated to cooperate with instructions. If you feel the relationship between patient and therapist is lacking, you can contact the home healthcare agency, explain the problem and ask for another. I’ve done it, and they were happy to accommodate my preferences.

What can a physical therapist do for you?

When I had knee replacement surgery, the therapists at the hospital wanted to be sure that I could stand and walk with a walker safely. I also practiced on some stairs under supervision. They questioned me about my home and made sure there would be someone with me. They wanted to be sure I would be safe before I left the hospital.

After I came home from the hospital, I had a home health agency provide a physical therapist. The therapist evaluated my physical condition and then inspected the home environment for fall hazards. He was looking for things such as loose rugs and electric cords which are trip hazards. He also wanted to see mobility aids, such as stair rails and bath safety equipment.

A Working Plan for Treatment

After the first session, the therapist had a working plan in place for my physical therapy.

  • My medical condition was evaluated, and physical abilities and limitations were identified.
  • Mobility equipment was inspected and adjusted as needed.
  • Exercise types and techniques were practiced and a list was made for my daily workout.
  • Our home was examined for possible fall hazards and recommendations were made.
  • A schedule was set for my future physical therapy sessions.

Physical Therapy is Hard

I liked my therapist. But I must admit I wasn’t always glad to see him. And that’s because it was hard work when he came.  He always wanted more. “Let’s try this new exercise today. I’ll just add a little more to this ankle weight. I’ll bet you can do 20 instead of 15. Can you do a couple more?”

Even though there was sweat and hard work involved, I knew I was in good hands. I felt confident he knew what he was doing. He constantly evaluated my progress. “How does that feel? Are you doing ok? Does that hurt?”   He carefully made sure to get the most from me without going too far.

I look back now and think of him as a friend who helped me recover. Every session I heard compliments like “Good job! Doing great!  Keep it up!”

That was a big help.

Getting the Most Out of Physical Therapy

If you’re looking to get the most from your therapy, I can offer a couple ingredients that will help you to a successful outcome. And those ingredients are  – –

A positive attitude and a willing effort.

When we get sick we go to the doctor and expect him to do something to make us better.

P.T. is different. A therapist cannot make you better. They cannot do the work that is yours to do. You will receive the “how and what” of your therapy, but it is your responsibility to do everything they say, even when they’re not there watching.  Do anything less, and you’re just cheating yourself.

My doctor explained it like this. I had asked “How much mobility will I regain after surgery”? He replied that it was up to me and the effort I put into rehab. He could fix the knee, but it was up to me to work at therapy.

Repetition and Moderation

Having stated the need for personal commitment, I have one last observation to share.

You just can’t force physical therapy. Moderation is the key. To overdo it is a mistake. In today’s world, we believe that more is better.  But in this case, we need to deny those tendencies and stick to the physical therapist’s plan.

My home care physical therapist set goals and saw to it that I achieved them.  He acted as a coach for me, encouraging me to keep working while increasing the demands. He kept me at the right level of intensity, but was not so aggressive that I would hurt myself.  Every session ended with heating pads or cold packs on my knee.  Physical therapy can be hard, perhaps even painful at times. A good therapist respects the patient’s limits.

So I guess I’m saying, be prepared to work hard. Be diligent with your daily sessions even when the therapist is not present. Allow yourself all the time required to complete your daily work-out. And finally, be patient with your body. You’ll get there.

Just remember, slow and steady gets the job done.


You can do it!

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