5 Strategies for Better Patient Advocacy

None of us make it through our lifetime without requiring medical care. Even if you were the unicorn that lived a full life without an injury, illness, or sore tooth, someone you know will require care. And whether it is you, a family member, or a friend, it’s important to understand how to be an advocate throughout the process. Because the importance of patient advocacy lies in its ability to enhance outcomes during medical care.

What is Patient Advocacy?

In the traditional sense of the word, patient advocates are people or organizations that interface with medical facilities, medical professionals, and even insurance companies on the behalf of patients. Patient advocates can assists with complicated decisions, such as insurance claims, tests, and procedures. Though there are professional patient advocacy providers, a family member, friend, or spouse can also fill this role.

How to Be a Patient Advocate for Yourself or a Family Member

When going through an injury or illness, it is easy to take all the information you receive from doctors and nurses as gospel. The experience can be overwhelming, after all. Yet inefficiencies, mistakes, and oversights do happen, especially when you consider the volume of patients that a given medical practitioner sees in a given day. And there are plenty of opportunities for patients or their advocates to provide context, additional information, and timely decision making to help facilitate better outcomes.

Here are five strategies to be a better patient advocate:

  • Ask questions – A lot of them. Resist the tendency to just go through the motions. Instead, ask nurses, doctors, therapists, and other medical staff about timelines, medications, procedures and test results.

  • Take notes – There is nothing wrong with taking notes while meeting with medical professionals. The volume of information around medication, treatment outlooks, and therapy recommendations can be overwhelming. Take notes and be sure to add timestamps so you can reference your notes later.

  • Do your research – Find credible information from reputable sources about conditions, illnesses, and injuries. This can help you ask informed questions and be realistic about treatment.

  • Lean on your support system – For some odd reason, people tend to shoulder burdens alone in times of need. It’s important to include family and friends during treatment, recovery, or rehabilitation. It introduces new perspectives on the matter and helps avoid burnout.

  • Be honest – The more that your physician, physical therapist, or nurse knows, the better equipped they are to provide accurate and effective care. Give them complete and accurate information whenever you can.

Good patient advocates ask not just what the physician’s objectives are for treatment—or what they recommend—but ask themselves what their own objectives and goals are. If you are advocating for yourself, say your objectives out loud. Write them down. Have a working understanding of these goals so that you can communicate them to your physician or physical therapist when the time comes.

Remember: physicians, physical therapists, and other medical professionals—though highly trained and talented—are not mind readers. They too benefit from an informed and engaged patient advocate.  

New Study Shows Exercise Improves Heart Health in Cancer Patients

Despite the immense challenges that cancer represents to both patients and medical professionals, it’s comforting to know that cancer research continues to make great strides. Naturally, our ears perked up when a new study from the the Journal of Clinical Oncology hit our inboxes. The study links exercise to improved cardiorespiratory fitness in adult patients suffering from cancer.

Though this might seem like a self-evident revelation (we already know, for instance, that sedentary lifestyles can increase the risk of diseases like cancer), there is more here than meets the eye. As Medpage points out in their analysis of the study, “up to 80% [of patients with adult onset cancer] have significant impairment in peak oxygen consumption.”

Indeed, diminished cardiovascular function is common among cancer patients. And according to the American Cancer Society, cancer-related fatigue is also quite common, often due in part to the decline in heart health that typically accompanies many types of cancer.

It’s a problem that tends to compound upon itself. More challenging still is that fact that, even though cancer patients find it difficult to exercise due to cancer-related fatigue, this new research suggests that exercise is key to improving heart health in cancer patients.

So where does that leave us?

To begin with, it is important for cancer patients to find the right environment to enable safe and productive exercise. This includes finding the right tools to support healthy cardiovascular exercise, of which there are a number of encouraging examples.

In a pilot study documented in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, for example, low-impact cardiovascular exercise on the AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill™ was shown to improve cardiovascular conditioning and health for breast cancer survivors. In its recommendations for exercise as part of cancer treatment, Harvard Health recommends “referral to an accredited exercise physiologist and/or physical therapist.”

Though specific exercise recommendations will vary from patient to patient, this new study from Journal of Oncology is significant for a number of reasons. For medical professionals, the study supports the role of exercise in improving cardiovascular health for cancer patients. For those cancer patients suffering from cardiovascular decline, the study offers a potential path to regaining some function, quality of life, and overall health.

And for the rest of the world, this new study indicates that finding links between cardiovascular fitness in cancer patients and exercise remains a priority for cancer researchers across the country.

That is welcome news.

The Evolution of AlterG Technology and What it Means to You

Since our humble beginnings in 2005, AlterG® has come a long way. So too has the evolution of physical therapy, often progressing at a dizzying pace. In keeping with our commitment to being a pioneer in advanced rehabilitation technology, we’ve continued to add to and improve upon our suite of tools. Continue reading “The Evolution of AlterG Technology and What it Means to You”

3 Ways AlterG Technology is Changing Athletic Training and Rehab

In our previous post on modern technology revolutionizing athletic training and rehab, we took a closer look at the innovations helping PTs and athletes push the boundaries.

On our end, it’s usually the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill™ or AlterG Bionic Leg™ that grabs headlines. However, there are the three AlterG technologies that take these tools to the next level. They enable physical therapists and patients to be more effective during training and rehabilitation. Continue reading “3 Ways AlterG Technology is Changing Athletic Training and Rehab”

New Advancements in Evidence-Based Physical Therapy

In our last post, we explored the various benefits of evidence-based physical therapy. In recent years, physical therapy has seen great advancements in approaches to evidence-based care. Optimizing therapy for better outcomes requires new innovations, new tools, and new sources of objective data. Continue reading “New Advancements in Evidence-Based Physical Therapy”

Evidence-Based Physical Therapy – What You Need to Know

 

In physical therapy, accuracy, and consistency are of the utmost importance. To be effective, therapists tailor each PT program to the needs of a given patient. Those needs, of course, vary widely. Still, most situations that require PT can be grouped into existing categories with corresponding PT programs. And one of the key ways that many of today’s practices are ensuring consistency and efficacy is by basing therapy on authoritative information. Continue reading “Evidence-Based Physical Therapy – What You Need to Know”

Do Active Seniors Need A Personal Trainer Or Physical Therapist?

 

 

It’s important to maintain exercise, especially as you age. As physical therapists, you may be seeing more active seniors looking to stay fit after injuries or orthopedic surgery.

But active seniors who are keen on keeping their bodies fit may be signing up for gym classes or doing routines that are no longer safe. Think of all those Zumba classes or senior weight training classes. Who knows if the instructors are aware of their medical conditions and past injuries.

This can lead to serious injury. Continue reading “Do Active Seniors Need A Personal Trainer Or Physical Therapist?”

An Introduction to Stroke Rehabilitation

On average, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds in the United States. It’s the third leading cause of long-term disability, and the path to rehabilitation can be an arduous one. Question is, when a stroke hits home, what happens next? Continue reading “An Introduction to Stroke Rehabilitation”

March Madness is Over – Here’s 3 Common Basketball Injuries (and How to Avoid Them)

This year’s NCAA Basketball Championships are over, and what a tournament it was. At the end of all the March Madness, it was the Villanova Wildcats that prevailed for men’s basketball and Notre Dame for women’s basketball—each team winning their second title. Continue reading “March Madness is Over – Here’s 3 Common Basketball Injuries (and How to Avoid Them)”

How Your Lifestyle Can Help Prevent and Defeat Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2017, over 400,000 people will have died from the four major cancer types (lung, breast, colon/rectum, prostate) in the United States alone.  It’s a sobering statistic, to say the least, enough to give any person pause—no matter their walk of life.

Whether you’ve had personal or indirect experience with this wretched and challenging disease, you likely share a sentiment common to most people: cancer is a terrible trial to be avoided at all costs. So, what can are some simple things we do on a daily basis to help prevent cancer? And in the unfortunate cases where cancer does enter our lives, what can we do to help beat the disease and move on with our lives?

Continue reading “How Your Lifestyle Can Help Prevent and Defeat Cancer”