Physiotherapy can evoke many different emotions and provide different experiences for everyone. Whether it’s your first or twentieth time attending a physiotherapy appointment, it can be an exciting, stressful, emotional, painful, or even confusing experience. At StudioXphys we strive to make each consultation as enjoyable, fulfilling, and rewarding as possible for all of our clients, and the following list provides a few examples of what you can do to significantly improve the experience for yourself, as well as for your physiotherapist.
Helping people achieve their goals is one of the most enjoyable parts of being a physiotherapist, however, if we aren’t given specific goals it can make our approach to planning the rehabilitation journey a difficult process. The most common response when we ask our clients what their goals are is, “I want to be pain free”. While this is a great goal and something we want to help everyone attain, it doesn’t give us a specific goal to work towards in our treatment plan. Instead of saying, “I want to be pain free”, try to rephrase it as a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time based) goal. An example would be, “I want to be pain free on my follow through so I can improve my golf swing and play 18 holes of golf in 6-8 weeks ”. Please come prepared with one or more SMART goals relevant to whatever it is that you want to get back to doing so we can personalise your treatment plan to help you achieve your goal(s) as efficiently as possible!
2. Come prepared with as many details surrounding your symptoms as you can
If you have booked in for a physiotherapy appointment start thinking about the nature of your symptoms so when you discuss them with your physiotherapist so they can better understand your condition, and come to a quick and accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible. Some examples of what to think about would be how long you’ve had your symptoms for, what activities or movements make them worse, how they are affecting your weekly routines, what makes them feel better, what time of the day they come on, etc. The more detail you can give the easier it will be to formulate an accurate diagnosis and create an accurate and optimal treatment plan.
3. Have realistic expectations about the time it will take to heal
Everyone wants a quick fix these days, however, this is usually unrealistic when it comes to the human body. Our bodies have an amazing ability to heal over time and there are many strategies that we can put into place to accelerate this process throughout the stages of healing, but the reality is it takes weeks (low grade muscle strain), months (torn ligament), and sometimes even over a year (severe fractures) for some of the structures in our body to heal completely! The healing process continues long after the pain has decreased, and it is extremely important to continue to follow the treatment plan until the affected structures have completely healed to reduce the risk of reinjury or sustaining an injury elsewhere. Trust your physiotherapist’s recommendation for the expected time of the recovery, and ask questions if you don’t understand why it may take longer than you expected.
4. Ask questions
Come to each consultation prepared (especially the first one) to ask any questions that you want to know regarding your injury or condition. We take great pride in educating our clients, answering any questions they have to the best of our ability, and making sure that we are on the same page in terms of expectations, understanding, and reasoning for the plan that we’ve put in place. Sometimes you may think of questions in between sessions and then forget them during your consultation – if this is the case, make a note in your phone or write them down on a piece of paper and bring these questions to each consult to discuss with your physiotherapist.
5. Commit yourself to the routine that has been proposed by your physio
Your time with your physio during each session will be valuable but limited. They will treat you, educate you, and provide the best plan for you to achieve your goals, but what you do in between sessions is where all the magic happens! Be honest if you haven’t kept up with the plan that they have put in place, and let them know if it’s unrealistic / not working for you as soon as possible so they can modify it and work together with you to make it more achievable. We commit lots of time to planning each follow up appointment assuming that the plan set out in the previous meeting has been followed, so be honest, committed, and realistic when approaching your rehabilitation.
If you have any records or information to help us better understand the injury or condition that you’re dealing with, or any other past medical history, please bring this to your first appointment. Examples would include enhanced primary care plans (EPC), medical imaging reports (MRI, ultrasound, Xray, etc.), lists of medications, post-operative instructions/restrictions, past injury history, etc.
7. Stay positive and have fun!
Physiotherapy is not always an easy process, however, if you follow the previous tips you will be much more likely to enjoy the process, significantly improve your quality of life, and achieve all of your goals!