What is one thing that we do every single day when we go into our clinics, our gyms, or visit with our patients? We talk, we assess, we evaluate, we do a bunch of things, but what is the most important thing we do when we go to work? Personally, I don’t think that it is treating my patients, it’s not the prescription of exercises, or the soft tissue work. All of these mean NOTHING if I do not TEACH. We all have our different professions, but in the profession of physical therapy, we are not doing our jobs if we are not teaching our patients.
When someone is educated about their condition they tend to care more about what they are doing. When someone is educated about their condition they tend to know how to prevent further injury or re-injury. When someone is educated, it makes the therapist stay up to date as well. There are many reasons I need to keep my patients educated, but I think that sometimes we get busy treating, and lose track of our teaching. When a patient essentially goes through the motions without knowing why, how can they really be expected to go home and do their exercises, and really CARE about doing them. If the importance is not stressed then my patients will not feel a need to do them and then my patients won’t get better.
By teaching my patient’s about their condition, they become junior therapists themselves, who are then invested in their own recovery. These patients NEVER come in and say, “Why aren’t YOU making me feel better”. I am definitely a physical therapist first, but a close second would be teacher.
If you are currently attending physical therapy, take a second to ask your therapist some questions. “Why are you having me do this”, or, “is there anything I should focus on while I do these at home”. The more you know the better you will do, because in the rehabilitation process, patient education is just as important as the rehab itself. The day I stop teaching is the day I stop being an affective therapist.