Receiving treatment from a physical therapist can be a wonderfully soothing, not to mention… well… therapeutic experience. The skills involved in diagnosing, manipulating and restoring natural movement to patients with musculoskeletal and other issues are unique and can be quite wonderful. And those who think of it as a relatively new discipline might by surprised to learn that its first practitioner was Hipprocrates who, according to the open knowledge resource Physiopedia, advocated massage, hydrotherapy and manual therapy treatments as long ago as 460 B.C.
But an important and oft-overlooked part of the therapist’s repertoire is to devise a program of home workouts based upon the patient’s specific complaints and well as of course to his or her physical capabilities.
A Bespoke Approach
All sorts of people use the services of physical therapists, often referred by general practitioners who recognise their particular expertise in their chosen field. Some patients may be sports people who have sustained injuries whilst performing. Others may be people who already experience mobility issues in their everyday lives – older people, people with a disability or even those who are physically restricted in their movements due to their own personal condition. The approach taken by the therapists will always be one that is mindful of and adapted to the unique circumstances of the patient.
What every patient has in common is that they are inhibited by pain or a lack of movement, sometimes both, the causes of which need to be identified before they can be remedied. Once the therapist has a handle on what is involved, a program of treatment can be devised which will usually entail a bespoke exercise regime which can be followed at home once the session has ended. The type of exercise prescribed will of course depend upon the nature of the condition involved. Generally speaking they will belong to one of four categories – balance, range of motion, strengthening and general conditioning exercises.
The Onus for Compliance is on the Patient
Whilst the application of the correct exercise program is the responsibility of the physical therapist, the onus for compliance with the program rests entirely with the patient. A study contacted by academics from the University of Bristol and recorded in the British Medical Journal revealed that non-compliance was common, and that whilst the reasons for not following advice were rational they were not usually predictable.
Performed diligently, and properly, home workouts are an essential facet of the rehabilitation process. Often recovery is only possible by the affected area receiving regular, organised movement which it is intended will over the course of time restore normality to the joint, nerve or muscle. No matter how great the therapist’s expertise, this is not a thing that can be achieved at the practice alone.