Making the Most out of Your Physical Therapy Sessions
(Part 1 of 3)
By: Megan Piersol, DPT
You might notice that in the title I stated “YOUR.” That’s right. Physical Therapists are here for you, to make you better, to help you obtain your goals, and to improve your well-being. The “your” is also a responsibility: it is your responsibility to get the most out of your therapy sessions, make sure your therapist is keeping on track with your goals, and that you are putting forth the work the therapist recommends. Physical therapy is a commitment and dedication that you have to be ready for or the progress won’t be as exponential or beneficial. It’s time to look into yourself and figure out what exactly you want from therapy and in your life. Are you satisfied with your life? What do you desire to improve in your life? Over the next few blogs, I will be outlining different aspects of therapy and things to reflect upon and answer to help your therapy sessions reach more towards your goals and expectations.
The first question to ask yourself before you schedule your first therapy session is:
What are you wanting out of Physical Therapy?
Are you here just because your doctor told you that you needed physical therapy?
Do you know what a physical therapist can do for you? Do you have set goals and motivations to get back into things that you used to do or want to do?
If you are unsure of what physical therapy is or what they can even do for you, then pick up your phone and call a local physical therapist office. Any good office will take your name and number and have a therapist call you personally to discuss your case and how they can help you. This might allow you to develop more thoughts and brainstorm on what you want out of therapy.
If you already know that you want to go to therapy, then think about what exactly you are wanting out of your plan of care. Write down realistic goals that the therapist can help you with. From a therapist standpoint, goals from patients allow us to better tailor your program and create exercises that help you reach your goal, are of more interest to you, and allow you to see the ultimate end goal. Goals can be as simple as wanting to be able to function better in life without difficulty, to walk to the mailbox and back without pain, to play catch with your kids, to participate in a sport, to be able to run in the next race, etc. Maybe you just want a tune up and to make sure you are on the right track with your own exercise routine. The options are endless and up to you.
Don’t hesitate to speak up. The more you talk and tell your therapist, the better they can develop a plan of care that meets your needs and desires. I think you’ll be surprised at how welcoming a therapist can be when you open up and discuss your fears and concerns with them. It is this information that allows for each session to be more individualized and important to your success and progress. Once you are more aware of what you want out of therapy (and perhaps what therapy can do for you), there will be other questions to begin asking yourself. I want to give you time to reflect on the question above before going into how much commitment you are willing to put into therapy. This next section will be addressed in a couple weeks to first allow you time to reflect on what you want out of therapy. Remember, you don’t have to do this alone as your therapist can help guide you towards answering this question.