Consistency is Key: How to Achieve Desired Results through Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy

How can I Achieve Great Results from Physical Therapy?

A question I get a lot from patients on their first day of physical therapy is, “How often should I come in for treatment?” Although the answer seems standard, it really is the truth if a person wants to achieve real results in a reasonable amount of time. That answer is 3 times per week, especially over the initial few weeks. There is a reason most prescriptions for physical therapy say “3x/week for 4 weeks.” Patients who engage in physical therapy treatment on a consistent basis early on are more likely to see improvements in pain levels, joint swelling, range of motion, strength, and overall function. Taking advantage of the physical therapy clinic’s equipment for exercise and the physical therapist for manual therapy interventions often and early on in the rehab process allows tissues (i.e. muscles, tendons, bones, etc.) to remodel more quickly, thus leading to desired positive results.

Another reason consistency with physical therapy is important is that it will help establish a new behavior in a person so as to prepare him or her for life after PT. If a patient engages in regular physical therapy sessions for 3 times per week for 4, 8, however many weeks and becomes accustomed to performing exercises that often, that patient is then more likely to continue exercising independently once discharge from structured PT is attained. A major goal for every single patient who undergoes physical therapy treatment is to make that patient independent with a comprehensive home or gym exercise program.

Like consistency is necessary for attendance in physical therapy at the clinic, it is also necessary when performing a home exercise program. I always make sure to give a patient 3-4 basic exercises on their first day of PT that we perform on Day 1 and that I expect a patient to do daily, especially on days not scheduled for physical therapy treatment. I think about it this way: A patient comes in for about an hour 3 times in a week. That’s 3 hours in a week. That’s 3 hours out of 168 hours in a week. That’s less than 2% of the time in a given week. Only so much can be achieved during the time spent in PT. So, it is of paramount importance that a patient performs his or her home exercises so as to see desired results.

In essence, developing a routine that includes regular exercise while in physical therapy treatment will help carry that routine into independent exercise in the future. Consistency with a PT program and, ultimately, an independent exercise program will allow every patient to recover from any condition keep that condition from recurring.

Rob Kohutanycz, PT, DPT

Posted in: Physical Therapy

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