We are frequently taught that we should be able to get about 80% of the information we need to figure what is wrong with a patient, simply through our subjective evaluation. What is frequently missed, however, is what we are telling patients (verbally and non-verbally) and the impact it has. Mike Reinold recently wrote an article on 6 things we shouldn't do as physical therapists. It is definitely worth a read. There are things we do as therapists that we may not realize the impact. With the development of pain science research, we are learning that the things we say and how we act impact patients significantly. This includes the diagnostic process. It is best to avoid using pathoanatomical wording, as it creates a fearful and potentially hopeless attitude in the patient. Focus more on what we can do as physical therapists, i.e. “get your hip moving,” “strengthen these muscles,” and “teach you how to move.” Find out what the patient wants out of therapy and work to align your goals with theirs. It is essential that we establish a two-way relationship with our patients so that trust can be the foundation for improvement.
-Dr. Chris Fox, PT, DPT, OCS
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