Making the Most Out of Your PT sessions Part 2: The Commitment
by Megan Piersol, PT, DPT
The last blog described questions to ask yourself to better prepare you for the first visit with your therapist. It was also intended to get you brainstorming about why you want to receive and what you want to gain from therapy. The next topic that is important to help you get the most out of your therapy is deciding how much you can commit to therapy.
I am sorry to report that there is no magic wand or magical pill that a therapist can give you to make you better with the snap of a finger. Therapy is a process of commitment and dedication. Some problems are easily fixable within 4-6 sessions, whereas others may take a good 10-12 or more sessions to resolve. You have to also factor in the first couple sessions being discovery time for the therapist to get to know you, your body, and your movements better to even further develop the best interventions and plan for reaching your ultimate goal. We can’t read your brain, but we can eventually figure out what it is trying to say to us. This is also why the more information you give your therapist and the more feedback you provide, the better we are able to actually help YOU and not just your diagnosis. We want to hear about your passions and motivations and not just the aches and pains. Function is more important to a therapist because pain can be such a limiting factor in what the actual problem is. With better function, pain tends to lessen.
If your injury has been going on for over 3 months, then you can’t expect physical therapy to help you in 2 weeks. You have to be realistic with your injury and ailment. Problems can build up over time. It may have started out as a minor nag or ache that you ignore for a couple months to years until it started roaring at you. It also might be a problem that has built up over the years, disguised and eventually wakes you up one morning sounding all alarms. Things that creep up on you, arrive “out of nowhere,” or have been going on for a long time will take time to resolve. You also need to factor in that as we age, our bodies don’t heal with the same elasticity that it did when we were younger. This will also add some time to the process.
Your therapist should be able to provide you a realistic time frame for how long things should take to improve. If you can’t spend the therapist’s ideal prescribed frequency, then your therapist can give you an alternative plan of care. However, you will have to know that it might take a little longer if you can’t commit fully to the “ideal” plan of care. Therapists understand that you have other things going on in life. We try to provide home programs that can better fit in to your lifestyle. You will have to understand though that you might have to cut out some time during your day to work on your body improvement. The commitment is not only for the time spent with your therapist, but also continuing outside of therapy to work towards your goals and health. Just going to therapy once, twice, or three times a week isn’t enough as you have to dedicate some time on your own to follow the plan your therapist created for you.