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Toni Talks about PT Today

Therapy is an Automatic Response

Published May 20, 2008 10:43 AM by Toni Patt

I was sitting with a group of friends this weekend during a lull in the horse show. Everyone was complaining about being sore. Listening made me realize two things. First, people don't adequately stretch on a regular basis. Second, I was the only one it occurred to do something about the situation. I'm a PT. I immediately started developing plans of care and interventions while everyone else was still complaining.

That's the nature of being a PT. We see someone with a problem and we want to fix it. PT school teaches what signs and symptoms to look for when making a diagnosis and treatment plan. I look at people and can tell something is wrong. I don't think I'm alone in this ability. Therapists are able to look at people and determine something is wrong. The only question to me is which came first? Was it the desire to help people that made us therapists? Or did becoming therapists improve our abilities to notice dysfunctions? This is similar to the chicken or the egg question. We need to have one to be able to do the other.

The nature of being a therapist is to help individuals. To do our job we rely on both subjective and objective information. I look at someone with a neuromuscular problem and a treatment plan pops into my head. I can't help it. That's the way my brain works. I have to hold myself back when I see someone using an assistive device incorrectly. I just want to go over there and teach whomever the correct pattern. I bet I'm not the only one.

PT school teaches us what to look for to make a diagnosis. It refines a skill we already possess. It gives us the vocabulary to describe what we see. For most therapists, providing therapy is a drive. We can't not do it. Thus we find ourselves in PT school learning the skills to do what we want to do. Then we go to the clinics and practice what we've learned.

I gave my sore friends mini-massages this weekend. Putting my hands on someone to provide treatment is second nature to me. It's what I do. It's almost an automatic response. The only difference this time was my patients weren't elderly or confused.  I think all PTs have this response. It's what we do, so we do it. It's why we became PTs.


So true!!!  I actually had to teach the staff at a center where my husband had just received incorrect directions on how to use a cane after he had had ambulatory surgery on one of his knees. Her comment was that she was never sure of which side to tell the patients to use their cane, and then she smiled! I couldn't help but think of all the recovering patients she had told wrong.  

   Also.. going to water parks are tough 'cos you can see so much more going on with people that could be helped with PT!

Jeanne May 21, 2008 5:43 PM

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