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How to Make Your Physical Therapy Work

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who received some type of physical therapy last year, we certainly hope that you had good results. In fact, PT is incredibly effective for a long list of injuries and chronic health problems. In some cases, it’s a long way back to healing – but with the help of a skilled physical therapist, and a commitment to the process, people are often surprised by what’s possible.

What about all those other cases? What about the many people who don’t find meaningful healing and improvement through physical therapy? Is it safe to say that physical therapy “just doesn’t work” in some cases? Or could it be that certain flaws in the therapist’s approach – or the patient’s approach – prevented the full benefits of physical therapy from being realized?

One thing we know for sure is that physical therapy is a two-way street. Obviously, a qualified PT is someone who knows their stuff, and has completed a long and detailed course of training in order to become a practitioner. He or she will take that lead in terms of designing an effective treatment program, and guiding the patient through the process. But if the patient doesn’t “pull their weight” in terms of actively participating in the treatment, the results will often be less than ideal.

If you or someone you know is undergoing a course of physical therapy under the guidance of a licensed practitioner, here are a few things you can do to get the best results.

1. Communicate

Don’t think of physical therapy as a situation in which the patient is passive, and the therapist simple does his or her job. Physical therapy is really a collaborative process in which the therapist and patient work together to achieve lasting goals. Communication is an integral part of this.

2. Set goals and track progress

Your PT program is not a magic bullet – it’s going to take hard work and dedication. Setting specific goals and tracking your progress is super important to your success and lasting benefits.

3. Do your homework

Physical therapy is never something that is confined to the physical therapist’s office. Your therapist will give you specific exercises to perform in your own time. Remember – taking shortcuts here will not help you in the long run. Participate fully in your therapy program, and your results show it!

4. Be okay with ups and downs

Depending on the nature of the injury or condition for which you’re doing physical therapy, you might notice that your progress is not always linear. In other words, you’ll have good days and not-so-good days – that’s normal. It isn’t always a steady climb back to full health – sometimes there are fluctuations in progress. Over time, however, you should start to notice tangible and meaningful results.

Finding a good physical therapist

The therapist you choose will also make a big difference in terms of your results. Some physical therapist have a thriving practice and a strong reputation in the community. Others are new and unknown. There are even those who have collected some mediocre or even negative reviews.