For people recovering from injury or surgery, or coping with chronic disorders such as arthritis and rheumatism, physical therapy can be extremely beneficial. In fact, one of the only downsides to physical therapy is the time it takes to achieve results. Building strength and improving mobility often require months of treatment and plenty of patience, which is why it’s so important for physical therapy patients to have a support system in place.
If a loved one under your care is undergoing physical therapy, there are several ways you can offer assistance and encouragement. Here are few things to keep in mind:
Physical therapy is a rollercoaster
A common misconception of physical therapy is that it provides gradual, consistent results. But it’s normal for patients to experience ups and downs during treatment, making significant gains one day only to feel like you’re sliding backward the next. But unlike actual roller coasters, physical therapy progress should follow an overall upward slope, so if there isn’t steady improvement over time, you’ll need to discuss it with your loved one’s doctor.
Physical therapy goals should be realistic
Especially for elderly patients, it’s important to set realistic goals that take into account age-related limitations. For example, if your loved one was able to walk 50 feet with a rolling walker prior to an injury or surgery, their goals should remain in that vicinity. One of the best and most realistic goals is regaining independence—the more your loved one can do on their own, the more confident they’ll feel during treatment.
Physical therapy is emotionally demanding
In addition to the physical demands of your loved one’s treatment, recovery can take an emotional toll as well. Try to be understanding and listen to their frustrations and concerns. Sometimes simply letting someone vent can be an immense relief. Of course, there’s a difference between occasional venting and maintaining a consistently negative attitude, so if you feel your loved one’s emotional demands are more than you’re qualified to deal with, it might be worth looking into other forms of therapy as well.
Physical therapy requires homework
In addition to ensuring your loved one attends all physical therapy sessions, it’s important to motivate and assist them with their “homework,” which will usually consist of simple, physician-prescribed exercises that can be done regularly at home in between therapy appointments. Following the regimen will not only make appointments more productive, but it may also even speed up recovery time.
Physical therapy victories are worth celebrating
Understanding the ups and downs of the recovery process, setting realistic goals, and keeping expectations measured are only half of the equation when it comes to supporting your loved one through physical therapy. Maintaining a positive attitude is the other half—especially celebrating progress, no matter how minimal. Each literal or metaphorical step forward is a victory worth celebrating. And those celebrations will aid in motivation as well.
Let Bella Vista Health Center help
The best thing you can do for a loved one in need of physical therapy is helping them find the best facility available. At Bella Vista Health Center, we offer an individual patient-centered approach to treatment that truly focuses on each patient’s needs. Contact us today for more information about our services, or drop by and see us in Lemon Grove. We look forward to joining your support team and aiding your loved one through recovery.