Expectations For Your Physical Therapy

How to Approach your physical therapy treatment

In the words of Jerry Maguire ‘Help me, help you!’ —
Think of PTs as health coaches -they give you the tools and education you need to help you heal yourself. Everyone wants a quick fix — A pill, a shot, a one treatment and healed approach, but that’s not likely if you are dealing with a chronic injury or really want to prevent one from coming back. You need to actually build up muscle strength, stretch tight muscles, or retrain your postural muscles and these things don’t happen over night. Take responsibility for your treatment and do your home exercises. They are there for a reason, and they are an important part of your treatment. If you are serious about not only healing your current injury, but also preventing a recurrence, those exercises are a must. And they don’t stop when you are discharged from PT. A PT can’t give you muscle strength, but they can teach you how you can. Consistency is key. It takes about 6 weeks to really strengthen a muscle, so don’t get discouraged. It takes time.  Sadly with insurance limitations and only coming in to PT for 2-3 days a week does not counteract hours of poor muscle habits, sitting at your desk job for 8+ hours a day, or performing any repetitive type of activity in your life by itself. Taking care of your injury outside of PT (as instructed by your physical therapist) is an important component. So understand it’s a process and trust in the that process.
PTs are probably your best bet of any health care provider at really taking the time and educating their patients about their injuries and teaching you self-management and independence. Part of this is due to the amount of 1 on 1 time a patient gets to spend with their patient during the treatment. (Far more than most other medical professionals get to!) Take advantage of that time to bring in questions you may have about your injury, expectations, the exercises you’re doing, and anything else you can think of. We are happy to teach you.
Work with your PT to get better. They are on your side, and they want you to succeed as much as you want to get better!

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Jessica is a licensed physical therapist currently living and working in NY.