Attend Appointments for Physical, Emotional Healing

Unrealistic PT expectations a la Dos Equis Man

To make progress in physical therapy, expect to work hard and attend several appointments.

On a weekly basis we receive calls from patients who need to cancel their appointments. The reasons are quite common. Another injury occurs. An illness pops up. A family member is admitted to the hospital. Despite life happening, we all recognize the importance of carrying on when possible. There’s a spouse, child, parent, grandchild, employee, or executive board that’s depending on us, after all.

In the mix of life, remember that you and your own healing are important, too. And the only thing you need to improve your chances of healing are two to three hours. Upwards of two physical therapy visits per week will drastically increase the chances of positive physical therapy outcomes.

Boosting Chances of Recovery

In the summer 2017 issue of Current Orthopaedic Practice, researchers summarized patient outcomes based on the number of their weekly physical therapy visits.

Nine of 10 patients who attended physical therapy appointments twice weekly experienced positive outcomes—meaning they achieved their therapy-related goals and fully returned to their prior levels of functioning. What’s more is that six of 10 patients who attended 1.67 appointments experienced positive outcomes.

While the research findings emphasized two visits, we find in our practice that three visits per week is the optimal frequency of visits for two reasons. First, many referring physicians prescribe three physical therapy visits per week. Second, some issues are so complicated that a fewer number of visits will not do the patient justice.

So, what does this all mean? Attend all of your thrice-weekly appointments, attend more of your scheduled appointments than you cancel, and it won’t hurt to triple or quadruple up on your weekly appointments if you do miss one.

Encountering Emotional Barriers

Sometimes though, we internalize life’s problems, and the invariable impediment to keeping all PT appointments can be emotional. If you are experiencing anxiety or depression, reach out to your doctor or loved one, and be sure to find a PT clinic where you feel cared for emotionally as well as physically.

Finally, if you suspect your loved one of being depressed, know that injury or chronic pain and disability exact an emotional toll. Offer your support, availability and encouragement to help your loved one attend scheduled physical therapy appointments. Physical recovery and gaining the skills to manage chronic pain go a long way toward emotional health.