The Importance of Family in the Physical Therapy Process
Family and the physical therapy process
When a patient enters physical therapy, the speed of their recovery is proportional to their relationship with their therapist. But what a patient gets out of therapy depends primarily on what they put into it. There is also a role for the family in physical therapy.
No matter how dedicated they are, physical therapists rarely get a chance to meet patients more than two or three times a week. Therapists can accomplish a lot in these sessions, significantly improving the patient’s strength, balance, and endurance. Unfortunately, their gains will not last if the patient does not exercise on their own.
Physical therapists do everything in their power to motivate patients. However, the role of patients’ families can make a world of difference when it comes to successful outcomes. When family is involved in physical therapy, patients push themselves harder. They adhere to their program even when progress seems impossible to them.
Unwavering family support helps patients get back on their feet—figuratively and literally.
Role of family in physical therapy
Patients thrive when families take an active role in therapy. They provide moral support, giving patients a sense of hope, breaking unhealthy patterns, and encouraging them to put in the effort required to reach their goals. For patients, encouragement from loved ones can mean the difference between a walker and a cane. Or between staying confined to bed or standing on their own two feet.
Family knows each other better than most, especially what drives them to get out of bed. But families also need to understand that physical therapy is a process, and results may not happen quickly.
To provide the most support for patients and physical therapists alike, family should adhere to the following guidelines:
Learn about their loved one’s condition. Understanding the scope of the problem makes it easier for families to manage expectations and avoid potential pitfalls.
Set realistic goals. Being honest about a loved one’s abilities and what they can achieve from the outset helps set patients up for success.
Talk to the therapist. When families act as a team, and learn what exercises therapists recommend for each stage of recovery, they can help encourage patients to be more proactive, and even assist them with exercises between therapy appointments.
Be direct. Patients struggle during the recovery process, and therapists are limited as to how they can communicate. Families, however, can address resistance without restraint, and address the consequences of inaction directly, to the benefit of patient and therapist alike.
Don’t give up. Patients will have good days and bad days, but the further they progress, the easier it will be to motivate them.