Be sure you understand your diagnosis.
This sets the tone one and is the key to your Physical Therapy success because it gives you a big picture and what to expect in the weeks and months to come. Physical therapists identify movement impairments and dysfunction, so a PT diagnosis may be more detailed than your surgical or injury diagnosis or the diagnosis written on your doctor’s referral. After the initial full evaluation, the physical therapist will give you their diagnosis. That diagnosis then dictates treatment intervention and plan of care, outlining goals for therapy as well as frequency and duration of treatment. By understanding your diagnosis, it will provide insight as to why particular treatment methods are necessary and why they will be effective. That way, whether you're doing exercises at home or having manual therapy performed by your PT, you'll understand why and how your treatment works.
Ask the right questions.
Asking the right questions can help in the prevention and avoid getting that injury ever again, and much of your ability to do that depends on your therapist and how willing they are to put in that preventative work with you.
You can ask something like: "What will you teach me that will keep this from being a problem again in the future?" Your PT should not only be interested in helping get you back to full function, but also in teaching you about 'why' behind treatments, your movement, recovery, and how your overall lifestyle plays into it all.
Keep a journal.
Motivation can aid you during a long recovery process, so it's helpful to look back on how far you've come. Keep your own notes on pain levels and how you are feeling from day to day (happy, sad, motivated, discouraged, etc.). Recovery can be slow, so by having notes of how your feeling over time lets you see the progress. Seeing results also helps keep patients motivated to continue with their recovery process."
Frequency of Physical Therapy Sessions .
Most people think that the more often they see their PT for a session, the better. But this isn't always the case. Oftentimes, physical therapy referrals read two to three times per week; However, when you seek hands-on, one-on-one treatment with a physical therapist for 45 to 60 minute sessions, weekly or biweekly sessions may be more appropriate, depending on your condition. Not only will these types of sessions help you get better faster, but they'll be more cost-effective, she says. Given that you are invested in your health and healing and therefore compliant with your program, fewer sessions could actually be better than more! For those who aren't dedicated to following their program, greater frequency or duration of sessions may be necessary."
Think of your PT sessions as education, not exercise.
It’s important to remember that you're not here to work out; you're there to learn how to heal your injury and prevent it from happening again. To get the most out of your PT session, think of your session not as an exercise session, but as an educational session. “An effective physical therapist must be an effective educator. That's why learning as much as you can from your PT is critical. Take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions, because Physical Therapists often have much more time to answer basic questions than most health-care providers. A therapist may not be able to answer all your health-care questions, but can often help you seek out the appropriate answer by contacting the appropriate channels.
Ask your therapist for feedback.
Physical therapists keep track of metrics like range of motion that tell the story of progress, but many times patients don't know to ask about it. Check in with your physical therapist every few weeks or once per month to understand how you are improving quantitatively.
Be honest with your PT.
Didn't have time to do your exercises? Feeling worse than when you started PT? Tell your therapist! Physical Therapist’s appreciate their honesty. Sometimes this will alert me to other stressors in a patient's life or allow me to suggest changes. Physical therapists are trained to make recovery possible, but if they don't have all the information, it can be tough for them to make appropriate recommendations. " The more your physical Therapist knows the more they can be a resource for you.
Kenneth Mauck, MPT, MS , Manual Therapy Expert