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Toni Talks about PT Today

The "Ah" Moment

Published April 15, 2009 9:26 AM by Toni Patt
This morning I had an "ah" moment. I was working with a dense hemiparectic patient. For the first half of therapy my tech and I were struggling to get him to sit without pushing. All of a sudden it was like a light bulb went off for him. He figured out what I was trying to get him to do and sat up as straight as could be. Not only was his head in midline, his gaze was forward. I call that an "ah" moment. It happens when a patient suddenly figures out what to do and does it. I think we've all had that experience. It can't be explained. It just happens. There was an added bonus to this morning's event. His physician happened to be rounding on him and saw the whole thing. For the rest of the treatment I called him "show off."

It's a special feeling when everything clicks with a patient. Usually it's not as dramatic as my patient this morning. Often it's something small like figuring out why terminal knee extension is important for standing.  It can be even smaller like learning how to use the walker to decrease weight bearing on a painful limb. Whenever it happens it's always a feel-good moment for me. Being able to do something like that reminds me why I'm a PT.

I think we forget that sometimes. It's easy to get wrapped up in just getting through a schedule. There've been times when all I could focus on was what I was going to do in the next few minutes. My patients were making progress as I expected. I didn't have time to think about being innovative, much less do something different.  Patients got better because that was the whole point of therapy. It wasn't that I didn't care.  It was more I forgot the why part of what I was doing. I don't mean the why of figuring out someone can't gait because of hip extensor weakness. I mean the why that comes from a person needing help to get back to a previous life style.

We all need an occasional "ah" moment. My day got much better after that because I felt like I did something that made a difference. Patients need those moments, too. They're working a lot harder than we are. Having everything suddenly come together is a huge motivator, not to mention a prevention of depression.  Neuro patients must have periods of depression. One minute they're independently doing whatever they needed to do. The next they're in a hospital waiting for someone else to do almost everything for them. It has to feel good to accomplish something major. My patient was smiling the rest of the day.

Tomorrow is another day. I'll go back to work and start again. Hopefully my guy will do just as well in therapy with me. I'll be good to go as soon as I get there.  My inner therapist has been recharged. I did something good. I helped someone. Everyone needs an "ah" moment once in awhile to recharge.  What PTs do is special.  No other health professional can do what we do. That's important to remember as we struggle through a busy day. An occasional reminder goes a long way in remembering that.


Your post brought back some warm memories!  You made me smile as I remembered accomplishments I've been privileged to be a part of.


Janey Goude April 20, 2009 11:07 PM

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