As a Physiotherapist, the most important things we can provide to a patient is 1. Education and 2. Exercise. The work that a Physiotherapist does with a patient is really a collaboration. When a patient asks:
How long will this take?
How many times a week will I have to come in?
The answer is always a big: “It Depends…”
Along the spectrum of similar issues there are many factors that play a role in answering these questions.
- How long has the issue been there?
- What is the persons baseline level of strength?
- What is the persons general health like?
- How old is the person? (this question really combines with the above 2 questions)
- What other activities is the person doing?
- How invested in the “process” is the person?
My answer to the above 2 questions revolves around these factors, but I also consider if a person is able to be safe and independent performing their exercises and if the person does these exercises in between appointments.
In my experience, people who treat their exercises like a prescription provided by their Physician tend to reach their goals more quickly and likely have more sustainable outcomes.
Physiotherapy exercises are given for a purpose. They should be progressed and modified when appropriate. It’s difficult to progress someone when they haven’t been doing their exercises. The principle a Physio operates under when providing exercises is really tissue attenuation. Whether it be for mobility or strengthening purposes (a Physio often provides both), if there isn’t some progressive and consistent challenge to tissues, change will not happen.
My advice to patients is:
- Communicate with your Physio about how the exercises are going.
- Be honest if you have not been consistent with your home program it is in your best interests.
- A little bit is better then nothing. We get swept away in busy days / weeks/ months, remember your goals and that they are worth the time spent on a small exercise program.
- If you do not do your exercises on your own and are frustrated with your progress, increase the frequency of your visits to receive 1 on 1 guidance.
- Follow through with the progressions even as you begin to feel better. Often people stop progressions too soon and would benefit from continued exercise prescription. This does not mean that you have to see a Physio forever. It simply means that you can space visits apart further, as long as you are consistently following the program.
Remember, it is important to stay mobile and active, no matter your health status, or age. If you would like assistance in how to get started or for what may be appropriate for you and your situation, a Physiotherapist can be a great ally. We can help guide you in the right direction, but the important part is your participation.