Being sick or hurt is not fun. The point of physical therapy is to return you to health by helping your body strengthen so you can regain mobility. Although the process can be lengthy and at times hurt, the results are well worth the effort. While you have a scheduled time and regimen and an educated medical professional to assist and teach you, there are a few things you can do to help optimize your recovery efforts. Perhaps you can improve more quickly, or gain more mobility through your added efforts. Either way, it is worth it to put in the extra work.
1. Take notes
There will likely be a number of distractions during your physical therapy session. In order to properly remember the exercises given to you in order to heal, bring something to record the steps. Whether it is pen and paper, a camera, or the therapist’s own handout, take plenty of good notes that you can reference later at home. Also, make sure they take notes on your progress, so time isn’t wasted answering questions or redoing work during your next session.
2. Clearly describe your pain
Some could say that pain is the same… just painful. However, there are many ways for pain to manifest. Your therapist needs to know what kind you have in order to help you. Describe if the pain is sharp, achy, stabbing, or throbbing. Let the PT know if it lasts consistently, or just when you do a particular step. Also, be sure to come up with a system for how severe the pain is… not much, or barely able to handle it. Armed with the right knowledge of what pain you experience, the physical therapist can determine what is and is not working. They can tell you if it is normal and should be worked through or if you should take it easy.
3. Be prepared
Be sure to arrive on time and properly dressed for your sessions. You only have limited face time with your PT before their next appointment. It is a shame to waste their time and your money by missing part of your session because you are late or ill prepared. Your clothing should be comfortable and loose enough to promote any movement required of you. Also, it could be a good idea to turn off your phone, so there are no distractions.
4. Take care of yourself
As you regain mobility during physical therapy, some doctors recommend that you be careful not to do too much too soon. Listen to your body and know when it is under stress. Also be mindful of the opinions of others that aren’t your doctor. You might receive a number of suggestions and remedies, but unless they are cleared by a medical professional that knows your situation, the comments should be taken lightly. Once you’ve healed, try to help yourself avoid injury in the future through proper body mechanics, periodic massages, and/or supportive gear.
5. Do everything assigned to you
The best way to progress with your physical therapy as quickly as possible is to do the exercises assigned to you by your therapist. Common sense dictates that you don’t skip exercises because you don’t understand them or miss them because you don’t feel like doing them. You are likely under pain, but it is important to do as much as you can during the recovery period, so that the injury isn’t prolonged any more than it has to be.
Remember to check with your doctor before taking any treatment or medical remedy.