What will it take to achieve the best outcome for my patient? At Physiotas we encourage our therapists to ask this question every time they see a patient. Whether it’s our physiotherapists, exercise physiologists or massage therapists. Why? Because the answer to this question helps you recover faster from your injury.
In 2003, Brown University (USA) compared physiotherapists with varying degrees of experience. The study measured patient outcomes. This means researchers measured the improvement of each patient during the treatment they received.
Results showed that a therapist’s approach is strongly linked to patient recovery. It also showed that experienced physiotherapists don’t always achieve the best results. The study concluded that the following attributes were most important in achieving the best outcome for clients:
- A patient-centred approach to care.
- Collaborative clinical reasoning.
- Promotion of patient empowerment.
So what does this actually mean? It means that therapists who achieve the best results do the following:
- They put the patient first when making clinical decisions.
- They explain their thought processes to the patient during assessment and treatment.
- They encourage the patient to take control of their rehabilitation.
The study showed these three factors to have the biggest impact on injury recovery, irrespective of how long the therapist has been practicing. So why is this important? It’s important because when therapists include each of these factors into your rehabilitation plan you recover faster.
This clinical philosophy doesn’t just relate to acute pain. It is also important in the management of chronic pain conditions. Pain is classified as chronic when it is present for longer than three months.
Researchers from the University of Nevada recently highlighted a study from the International Spine and Pain Institute (2016). This study showed that in the management of chronic pain a combination of education, manual therapy and exercise is best.
Chronic pain education is a service we offer at Physiotas. Dinah Spratt teaches these sessions. Dinah is a senior Physiotherapist who works at our Shearwater clinic. These sessions help you understand why your pain is lingering past normal healing times. You also learn that exercise and treatment won’t make your pain worse. Instead they will help you move better and feel better.
With this understanding you can take part in your treatments with confidence. You will also enjoy your sessions more. The added bonus is that you will begin to see faster improvement.
So what should I expect at my first physiotherapy session?
At the first session your physiotherapist will start by asking you some questions. These questions will be about the pain you have and how it’s impacting your life. This is called a subjective assessment.
Your physiotherapist will then do a series of tests. They will test how much strength, mobility and flexibility you have in the area that’s painful. They will also look at your posture and do a series of special tests. This helps them paint a picture of what is causing your pain, and what your diagnosis is. We call this an objective assessment.
Each patient’s problem presents differently, even if they have the same diagnosis. This is why you need a rehabilitation program tailored to your specific needs and not a blanket one given to each patient with the same injury. This is our point of difference at Physiotas.
At Physiotas your physiotherapist, exercise physiologist or massage therapist will:
- Explain to you his or her clinical thought process.
- Involve you and your goals throughout treatment sessions in clinical decision-making.
- Ask you to commit to being pro-active in your recovery. This might include improving your posture or performing rehabilitative exercises.
Please feel free to inform your therapist if your expectations aren’t being met. Information from you is the most valuable resource we can use to help you move better and feel better.
About the Author:
Gareth is a Director and Physiotherapist at Physiotas. Gareth recently gained a Graduate Certificate in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy from La Trobe University and is currently training to be an accredited practitioner of the Dr Dean Watson headache treatment approach. Gareth’s professional interests include neck pain and headache assessment and treatment, the treatment of vertigo and dizziness, spinal pain, knee rehabilitation and dry needling.