Help me, Help you!

It has been refreshing over the past few years to see more emphasis placed on patient guided care in the physical therapy realm and even more refreshing to be more patient focused since the doors to Direct Performance opened last month in Virginia Beach. This desire for physical therapists’ to provide patient centered goals and care has been a recent hot topic as insurance standards continue to change. Our desire to become patient focused is one of the major reason we transitioned to private practice.
So here are Direct Performance’s Top 5 ways to stay Patient Focused:

  1. Listen to the whole story: The initial evaluation is important for building rapport with your patients and to having a true picture of that patient's injury and functional limitations. We all need to do our best to not interrupt during the subjective portions of the evaluation as the patient’s already have all of the pieces of puzzle for us to make a diagnosis. We have to be the ones to put the pieces together by asking appropriate follow-up questions. Build trust with your patients by allowing them to tell their story to an active engaged listener.
  2. What do you want to get out of therapy? I always make a point to directly ask the patient why they are coming to PT. Not why the doctor sent them here. Not what their injury is. Not why their parents are bringing them to PT. But “What is the patient’s goal for coming to therapy today?” Do they want to run farther, reach behind their back to tuck in a shirt, squat deeper to pick up their 3 year-old, walk without pain, sit at work without pain, etc.
  3. Build a Baseline: During the objective portion of your exam, pre-test the movement that the patient is struggling and help them record symptoms/issues so a baseline can be set for how well they move and how they feel during the movement.
  4. Post-test the Baseline: After you have delivered novel input in the system with manual techniques, stretching, modalities, corrective exercise or other techniques, you need to have the patient retest their squat, re-check internal rotation scratch test. Without the pre and post test you miss an opportunity to show the patient why they are coming to see you and how your treatment helps improve their functional deficit.
  5. Build PT goals around your Patient’s goals: Strive to make your goals focused around what the patient needs/wants to do better so that your treatment progression remains focused on why the patient is coming to you for help. Staying focused on the patient's goals with this format will in turn improve and heal the pathoanatomical issues that are at the root of their functional deficit.