Close Server: KOPWWW05 | Not logged in

Welcome to Health Care POV | sign in | join
Toni Talks about PT Today

Seeing the Whole Patient

Published November 16, 2010 3:25 PM by Toni Patt

My patients never a make a good first impression. If I'm working with them, it means they've had a stroke. As a result, they are no longer the person they once were either cognitively or physically. Let's face it. No one looks good in a hospital gown and even fewer look good with permanent bed head. My male patients all need a shave. Facial droops change expressions. No matter how many questions I ask I don't get a true sense of who they were.

Therefore I tend to think of my patients in the context of their hospitalization. I meet family members. I learn who does what around the house. I know who works and which hobbies are enjoyed. All of which is specific, factual data that does nothing to describe the patient as a person.

That changed this week. Two of my patients introduced me to their lives before hospitalization. I realized how much about my patients I take for granted. One woman was a singer prior to her stroke. After a treatment session, she played some of her music for me. She had a beautiful voice and played some of the instruments on the recording. To meet her, you would never see that in her. When I asked her why she hadn't told me sooner, she said she didn't think it was important.

The other gentleman was found to have a demyelinating disease. Even though he didn't have a stroke, I'd been following him from his admission. His only concern was being able to return to his profession because that was all he knew. One day while we were walking I mentioned something to do with one of my horses. Turns out he knows the same horse people I do. His wife rides and shows Arabians, although she does dressage and I do hunter. She bought one of her horses from the woman who trains mine.

In both cases, one little comment made those patients human to me. I saw them as they were pre-stroke. They were people, not patients. The realization didn't cause me to change treatment plans or alter therapy. Both were making good progress. I just lost some professional detachment and allowed the outcomes to be more meaningful to me.

Professional detachment is a good thing. I couldn't work with the patients I do if I couldn't detach myself from the situation. But sometimes I focus on the person as a patient instead of the patient as a person. I need to remember there is more to a patient than meets the eye.


leave a comment

To prevent comment spam, please type the code you see below into the code field before submitting your comment. If you cannot read the numbers in the image, reload the page to generate a new one.

Enter the security code below:


About this Blog

Keep Me Updated