by Ginny Rieger
One of the most frustrating conversations I have with my patients happens at the initial evaluation. I have done my best to evaluate the patient and the problem they have come to me with, and I have a plan! In my head, I have considered all the factors; the injury, what I know of tissue healing and injury, what exercises will be appropriate now and what exercises will be appropriate as we progress, and suggestions I will be making. I am crafting a home exercise program for my patient, and ticking off my mental list all the things I can tell my patient to help them manage their condition well until we can get it resolved. And then, we come to it… I tell them I want them to come see me for an hour three times a week for about 6 weeks, give or take, and I am sure we can resolve this issue.
This is generally where I meet the most resistance. “Three times per week? I can’t do three times per week! I can maybe come once a week. Isn’t there one thing I can do at home that will magically cure this chronic condition that I have avoided taking care of for 15 years???” Ok, this may be a slight exaggeration, but often not by much!
Ever tried to learn a new skill? If you were going to learn to play guitar, and have to train your brain and muscles to do complicated patterns, would half an hour of practice a week create an awesome musician? Would you understand all the factors that may impede or help your goal?
If you were going to write a book, would writing for half an hour once a week get your novel written in under 20 years?
There are plenty of credible studies which show that patients have the best outcomes when they attend therapy 3 or more times per week.
The best way to learn new skills, unlearn bad habits, build strength, and solve problems is to work on them frequently and consistently. Doing therapy more often saves money and time, and is what is really necessary for us to help you feel better much faster. The other great thing about coming to therapy is accountability. Let’s face it, if you were going to magically get better without therapy, or you were going to solve this issue yourself, you probably would have already accomplished it and consequently, I would not have a job! There is a legitimate reason with a proven success rate for seeking professional help when it comes to overcoming injuries.
I completely understand all the barriers. Co-pays, work schedules, travel time, transportation, insurance benefits, motivation…these all play a role. It’s my job as an occupational therapist to help you overcome or work around these barriers so that you can get the help you need, get you better, and get you back to your life as quickly as possible! So get in here, and let’s get to work!