4 Ways to Improve Communication With Your Physical Therapy Patient

While physical therapy may be interesting to you, the therapist, it’s not always a joy ride for your patients. As pain and change creep in through therapy, your patient may simply want therapy to be over. This may cause them to hide their pain, deflect your questioning, and not communicate openly with you.

And if they’re keeping things from you, honest, long-lasting recovery simply isn’t possible.

In this blog post, we’ll show you how you, as the therapist, can encourage and improve open, honest communication with your patients.

  1. Be open and honest about what to expect. There is no need to sugar coat therapy. Be upfront to your patient about both the challenges and the possible results they can achieve throughout their therapy journey. If your patient is clear on what to expect, there will be fewer surprises and reasons to retreat later on.
  2. Get to know your patient personally and vice versa.
    Certainly, there are limits to this suggestion. But by and large, if your patient can come to like and trust you as their physical therapist and their friend, they will feel more comfortable sharing important pieces of information with you. They’ll be more open to discussing their pain, their progress, and challenges with therapy.
  3. Offer open lines of communication as much as possible.
    Let your patient know how much their input and feedback about their therapy journey means to you. Remember, therapy is scary and sometimes painful for your patients, which can make them feel uncomfortable with sharing big and small things about their pain. But if they know you’re ready and willing to listen to them and that their input could help their overall therapy success, they’ll be more willing to discuss with you.
  4. Explain the plan, the progress, and the details clearly.
    Whether you’ve noticed this or not, you and your fellow physical therapists speak an entirely different PT-specific “language” than people who have not been educated in physical therapy. Remember this when you’re explaining the plan of care to your patient. Be clear about how the patient is progressing or not progressing. And finally, explain each exercise – both inside your clinic and at-home exercises – clearly and repetitively so there’s no confusion.

    The PT-Helper Mobile App helps you clearly explain your patient’s home exercise program (HEP) with clean illustrations and details like sets, reps, and hold times about each and every exercise within their HEP. View the DEMO of what your patient will see using the PT-Helper Mobile App here.
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