Physiotherapists work with people of varying ages and with a wide variety of health impairments and conditions. As highly educated health professionals, physiotherapists have advanced knowledge of how the body moves and what stops it from moving. A physiotherapist can help you maintain your quality of life and improve your ability to function.
Without a doubt investing in your health is a worthwhile choice. However, as with any other investment, it is reasonable to want to get the most out of the effort and dollars spent. To that end, here are our top tips for getting the most out of physiotherapy.
1. Get informed
Research the treatments that your physiotherapist is suggesting as well as other treatment options that are available. Talk to your friends and family about their experiences with different physiotherapists. Find out what you can expect from treatment and investigate different providers and their approaches to treatment.
This includes making sure the physiotherapist you see is indeed a regulated physiotherapist. Physiotherapy is a regulated profession under the Health Professions Act and the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta protects the public by ensuring only competent practitioners are registered as physiotherapists. This means that to legally call themselves physiotherapists, practitioners must be registered with the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta and must have proved their education and competence.
2. Speak up
It is essential that you share a lot of information with your physiotherapist. They will want to know about your injury or the reason you have sought treatment, but also about your hobbies and work life.
Your physiotherapist needs to know what matters to you and what your priorities are to best address your needs and goals. Open and honest communication helps to build an effective relationship with your physiotherapist and that will help you to make the most of your treatments.
One challenge that physiotherapists sometimes have is when people tell them what they think the physiotherapist wants to hear, rather than providing an accurate report of what has or has not been working. Without that honest communication, the chance of your physiotherapist guessing what matters to you, or what is working for you, is unlikely.
In addition to communicating with your physiotherapist, it is also important that you take part in your physiotherapy treatment. Physiotherapy is an active endeavor that has exercise prescription at its foundation. Although physiotherapists make use of a wide range of treatment approaches and techniques, exercise is often an essential component of a physiotherapy care plan.
Of course, exercise only works if you do it! If you are having difficulty completing your exercise program, ask your physiotherapist to review or modify your program until you are able to do your exercises safely, effectively and consistently.
4. Do your homework
In addition to exercise, your physiotherapist may provide you with direction about using ice or heat at home, monitoring your posture, or modifying your daily activities. While your treatment session with your physiotherapist may only last an hour, your habits and activities 24 hours a day, seven days a week have an impact on your recovery. Following through on your physiotherapist’s recommendations is key to the success of your treatment.
5. Ask questions
When it comes to your health, the only dumb question is the one you didn’t ask. If you are wondering “is it supposed to feel like this?” or “how long until this gets better?” or even “what is the problem I’m experiencing?” your best course of action is to ask and to keep asking until you feel comfortable that you understand both what the physiotherapist said but also what their answer means for you, your work life, family and recreation activities.
You should be able to explain what’s wrong and what the treatment plan is when your family or friends ask you. If you can’t, ask your physiotherapist to review the information again.
The core of any successful physiotherapy treatment is effective communication and treatment that meets your needs. Active participation, communication and input from the patient is an essential ingredient to achieving that goal.