A day in the life of a physiotherapist – October 14, 2011 by Jordan Miller, Registered Physiotherapist
As a physiotherapist, I find the most exciting time with a patient to be the day that I get to discharge them. It’s not that I do not enjoying seeing my patients, I do, but discharge means that patient has reached their goals and that is why I am a physiotherapist
Today, I discharged a patient that I have been seeing for about 8 weeks. She had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis and has been in pain for most of her life. On her first visit, she reported that her feet and knees were the most painful parts and limiting her from her day to day activities.
When I first saw her, I asked her, “What would you like to accomplish with physiotherapy?” or stated in another way, “12 weeks from now, how will we know that physiotherapy was successful?” The patient responded with one simple goal: to be able to take a bath. She said that if she could get into and out of her bath, she could accomplish everything else that she was currently having difficulty with.
So, we had a goal. This goal was a longer-term goal for her as when I first saw her, she was unable to get up from a chair without pushing up from the chair with her hands. She was a long ways from being able to get up from the bottom of a tub. In this case, we had to set a number of shorter-term goals in order to progressively work towards the long-term goal. We started with exercises aimed at increasing her pain free range to achieve the range of motion needed to get into the tub and strengthening exercises to develop the strength needed to lower herself safely into the tub and to get back out again after a soak. We gradually progressed to more functional exercises mimicking the process of getting into or out of the bath.
This week, she has taken two baths and I probably won’t see her in the clinic again. While I thoroughly enjoyed having her in the clinic, I am happy that I do not need to see her again.
The take home message from this story is that physiotherapy should be about reaching your own goals. You will be in charge of guiding your own treatment and determining whether or not treatment is successful. Your physiotherapist can help you reach those goals by making sure your goals are realistic and by providing the tools and intermediate steps to get there. If you are going to attend physiotherapy, make sure that both you and your physiotherapist know what the goals are.