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Toni Talks about PT Today

Don't Take Knowledge for Granted

Published March 22, 2011 1:17 PM by Toni Patt

This week my facility is sponsoring a nursing continuing education course on acute care of stroke patients. I'm talking about physical therapy and stroke rehabilitation. Even though I know the subject well, I had considerable difficulty writing my presentation. I have 60 minutes but need to allow some time for questions. I thought it would be a snap.

The problem was I didn't know what material to cover. Every time I wrote something down I scratched through it, thinking it was something they would already know. I didn't want to merely repeat old information packaged in a new way. I wanted to actually include useful information. Finally it dawned on me to cover the things I'm always asked about or have to explain. I knew that would be new material and might even make my day a little easier.

My presentation became 52 slides of what physical therapy assesses, treatment interventions, relevance to nursing care and a tad of neuroplasticity. The response I got when I submitted it for inclusion in the handout amazed me. Everything I was planning to cover would be new to the attendees. I thought the stuff was common knowledge and might be too basic. That was a surprise.

It made me realize how little our various disciplines actually communicate about what we do. I probably know a little more about what nursing does because it affects me directly. But I don't read their literature. I don't know what the hot topics of discussion in the nursing world are today. I couldn't do that for OT either even though some of our literature does cross over in both directions. I have no idea what the hot new research in OT is looking at. Up until now I assumed it was similar to what PTs were researching. I'm beginning to think that is wrong.

Nurses I work with regularly thanked me for explaining why I do some of the things I do. For example, they all knew to support the hemiparetic arm but no one knew why. The same was true of hand edema. They knew to prevent edema but had no idea how function could be affected. I think I've been taking a lot of knowledge for granted.

This little talk I wrote in less than an hour has been a learning experience for me. I don't know why it didn't occur to me that our information is different. Now I know to explain why I do something a little bit different if I want nursing to assist. I wonder if functional outcomes would change if I got even a little more reinforcement from nursing. Where would I see the changes? NIHSS scores? FIMs? Dispositions to home or rehab instead of skilled nursing? I don't know.


It take effort to explain what we do with patients to other disciplines and even more so when you have to give a presentation.  I think sometimes we do not have the energy to explain what we do, no matter how helpful, and you are right, we may assume that nursing already knows because they see the patients too but it is not on their hot list of must know information in regards to care.  

Jason Marketti March 24, 2011 12:53 AM

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