As a physical therapist, you know your business inside and out. You understand your patients’ expectations, frustrations, and challenges, and you adapt to accommodate them.
But that’s not a two-way street.
Patients rarely know what challenges physical therapists face behind the scenes. Four physical therapists share the things they wish their patients knew.
1. I Hate Dealing With Your Insurance
“I wish my patients knew how terrible their insurance company is,” says AlterG client Kevin Rausch, PT, MPT, President of Rausch Physical Therapy & Sports Performance in Laguna Niguel, CA. “Their insurance companies make it difficult to provide fantastic, outstanding care.”
They often limit how much rehab patients can receive, which means patients don’t always get the full treatment they need.
Rausch encourages patients to pursue physical therapy if it will benefit them despite an insurance company’s limitations. There are self-pay options, or arrangements you can work out with care providers.
2. I Don’t Just Want To Get You Better—I Want To Teach You How To Prevent Injury
Making sure that patients understand proper movement and motion is paramount for physical therapy patients, says AlterG client Adam Wille, PT, MSPT at Midwest-based Athletico Physical Therapy.
“And that’s what we do here,” he stresses. “When we assess our patients, we let them know if they have the appropriate range of motion, strength, and motor control to perform the activities they are involved in.”
“Just because you have done an activity doesn’t mean that when you’re walking, lifting, running, landing, and pushing off, you’re performing these activities with proper mechanics and control,” explains Adam. “And that’s often why people end up in physical therapy.”
The goal is to educate patients on proper motion, strength, and mechanics while doing not only exercise, but any daily activity.
3. It Doesn’t Have To Be Painful
The motto, “No pain, no gain” does not apply to physical therapy, but your patients may feel otherwise.
“A lot of people come into PT and the first thing out of their mouth is, ‘How bad are you going to hurt me?’ or ‘Why does this feel so bad?’” says AlterG client Steven Marano, PT, DPT, OCS, Facility Manager at Midwest Orthopedics in the Chicago-based Rush University Medical Center.
“I think it’s important to understand that PT should be based on the patient’s symptoms,” Steven cautions. “If something is hurting and it’s giving you more pain as you do it, it’s probably not appropriate for you to be doing, whether that’s a hands-on treatment from the therapist or an exercise.”
So, pain is not a sign of success. In fact, it signals that something is wrong, which means the physical therapist needs to monitor this, let the patient know it’s a problem, and then adjust the treatment plan accordingly.
But pain is not to be confused with muscle soreness.
“You have to educate the patient on the location as to where they would be sore from working the muscle,” Steven explains.
“If people could understand going into it that PT shouldn’t be painful, I think the compliance to PT would probably be a lot higher,” he adds.
4. Diet And Exercise Really Are Key
“I wish patients knew the research the way that we do to understand how effective exercise and diet are,” says AlterG client Karen Shuler, PT, DPT at Lifestyle Physical Therapy in Lake Wylie, SC.
Your patients probably hear an endless mantra from other healthcare providers about the benefits of a healthy diet and regular exercise, but it’s not just lip service. It really does make a difference. “I think we’re so immune to hearing it that we don’t realize it really can reverse some of the health issues, and the degeneration and dysfunction in our bodies,” adds Karen.
The disconnect comes in because your patients understand how diet and exercise improve general health, but not how it relates to particular health conditions, which might make all the difference.
“I think we’ve got to be more specific and explain it to people,” she says. “For example, someone who quit smoking can almost completely reverse peripheral artery disease.”
“Or with the Parkinson’s program that we do, I have a hard time getting them to understand that the exercise is their medicine,” Karen adds. “The patient and their family members do begin to see its effectiveness because their functional performance is better throughout the day.”
Want to keep your patients comfortable during treatment and get them better quickly under their insurance coverage? Want to prevent injury or just get your patients up and moving? Contact a rep at AlterG who can tell you about an innovative and effective workout that patients love.