How Bad Do You Want It?
I treat a multitude of patients with varied ailments ranging from severe constipation to the simple acute ankle sprain. During my initial evaluation spiel I try not to stand on my soapbox too much, but I am always certain to place heavy emphasis on the importance of self-management and self-treatment, regardless of what body part I'm treating. My usual choice of words are, "the most important factor determining if you get better is what you do on your own." Most patients nod in understanding, trying to convince themselves that they will in fact perform their home exercises despite all the factors working against them, namely, time. It's extremely easy to find excuses to not carve out those 15-30 minutes a day to devote to improving your well-being, but as the saying goes, "make time for health now or make time for injury later.”
When it comes to PT, it is important to realize that it’s NOT a passive process. Patients need to be actively involved, doing all they can to improve their condition both in and out of the PT clinic. In other words, patients have to WANT to get better. With the high-volume nature of most NYC clinics, a patient will often only get 20 or so minutes one-on-one with a therapist, after which they are expected to perform their exercises under the guidance of a PT assistant/trainer/aide. If that patient happens to be fortunate enough to be able to attend PT twice a week, that's still only 40 minutes of direct care out of a 10,080 minute week. You don't need to be a mathematician to understand that the effort put in during those other 10,040 minutes can greatly expedite and ensure your recovery.
Take ownership of your rehab and commit yourself to doing what is required to get better. Stop waiting to find your answer in an MRI, or bottle of prescription medicine, or an invasive surgical procedure. Now, don't get me wrong, there is absolutely a time and place for the benefits of modern medicine. However, most people fail to realize that getting that surgery to fix their torn rotator cuff or herniated disc (many of which can be managed without surgery, but I'll save that for another post) is just the BEGINNING of the road to recovery. Any weakness or movement impairments that were there prior to the surgery will still be there afterwards, and that person is now charged with the task of restoring function.
The human body is remarkable it its capacity to heal, a process that is exponentially strengthened when the mind becomes a teammate. If you do not want to get better, if you do not commit yourself to the process of rehabilitation, you will not get better. You must realize that you cannot treat your body as simple device that can be taken to the store and fixed while you sit and patiently do nothing. Like I said in my last Train Talk Thursday article, you are not Nintendo! As a physical therapist I am here to help guide and steer you on your path to recovery. But you are the driver, you are the engine, and the outcome is in your hands.