A saying I use frequently with my patients and myself is “Progress, NOT perfection”
I want to talk about what this means and why it is important for reaching your goals.
Length of Stay
Very few conditions can be adequately treated in only a couple of visits. The nationwide average for outpatient physical therapy is 8 visits. However, several factors may increase or decrease one’s visit number. These include but are not limited to diagnosis, age, sex, language, physical or cognitive difficulties, the clinician, and personal adherence.
Personal adherence you say?Yes! Although the clinician is a resource to guide and shape the rehabilitation process, ultimately it is up to the patient to ensure improvement and prevention of future injuries. This includes attending visits, working hard and following guidance during the session, being compliant with home exercises and instructions, and continuing a maintenance and prevention regimen after skilled care has ended. Research has shown that only 30% of patients in outpatient physical therapy attend all authorized visits, and only 35% of patients fully adhere to their plan of care! Factors such as baseline activity level, self-efficacy, depression, anxiety, social support, and pain levels during exercise impact adherence. Your clinician has a multitude of ways to optimize your experience in physical therapy. However, it is important for the patient to TAKE CONTROL of the process to ensure the best long-term prognosis.
The affected tissue or body part is a major factor in the length of time and ultimate success rate of the physical therapy process. Tissue healing takes time. Let me repeat for affect… Tissue healing is a PROCESS and doesn’t happen overnight. Every condition heals at a different rate and every person is different. The process can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 1 year based on the tissue and the severity of the injury. Additional elements such as movement patterns, hydration, nutrition, inflammation, sleep, health, and age can speed up or slow down healing.
As I am sure many of you have become aware, aging changes the body. Every tissue is impacted in some way by the aging process, which in turn slows healing. The skin and other tissues thin, dry out, and lose elastin and collagen; reducing elasticity. Bones lose calcium, cartilage stiffens and degenerates, and muscles atrophy. Our nervous system’s ability to transmit signals also slows. These, and other internal factors slow the overall recovery from an injury.
It is also important to note that the absence of pain does not mean the injury has healed.
Strengthening and Prevention
One of the most important parts of rehabilitation is exercise. Strengthening, balance, flexibility, and endurance training are all vital parts of fitness. Unfortunately, true change in the muscles can take weeks to months. When pain has resolved this is a great time to advance the strengthening process and work on prevention of future injuries. Not continuing therapy at this point can put someone at high risk of reinjury.
As a result of all these processes, it is important to monitor and recognize improvement and success. Keeping track of the ways your condition improves overtime increases motivation and encourages persistence. Try to focus on the small victories; rather than striving for immediate perfection.
If you have any questions or concerns, or to schedule and appointment please contact us at 785-331-0106
And remember… EXERCISE IS MEDICINE!
Dr. Brianna Phipps, DPT