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Toni Talks about PT Today

Patient Empowerment

Published February 6, 2013 11:46 AM by Toni Patt

One of the presentations I attended at CSM discussed ways to increase motor learning by empowering the patient. They gave an example where one group of patients was asked to help decide which picture to hand in the waiting room prior to assessment. The other group just did the balance test. The patients who participated in picking the picture did much better.

The speakers went on to give other examples, including giving patients choices about which exercises and allowing them more freedom to make mistakes. It makes sense. Providing them with choices gives them some control. With control comes ownership.

The flip side was using phrases like "I want you to" and "I need you to." Obviously sometimes you have to use them but it's context as much as vocabulary. "I want you to do a hand exercise. Which one would you prefer?" is an example. Pretty simple but many in the room were surprised. There was discussion about how to change behavior in the clinic that surprised me.

I know I'm more likely to buy into something if I'm included in the decision process in some way. Same with understanding why I need to do something. If I see the purpose, I'm more willing to try. But this goes beyond that. By including those individuals in the decision, they were being validated. They were being told their opinion mattered. How often does that happen to someone in the healthcare system? It's pretty much someone else directing what happens.

I've been doing my own mini-experiment since I've gotten back. I try to exclusively use choice words. Twice we've had to make a decision about where something went in the department so I've asked all the patients for an opinion. I don't know that they're doing better but they seem to be enjoying therapy more.


Toni, Loved this blog! This is what I was trying to convey in response to the blog on 3/13/ 2013. Its all about giving the patient the opportunity to own their outcomes and holding them accountable to their goals set with our guidance. We so want our patients to succeed! Thanks for sharing!

Karla Grimmett, Physical Therapy - PTA/Wellness Coach, Holiday Resort March 14, 2013 9:43 PM
Council Grove, KS KS

oh wow! thank u for sharing. it makes total sense :)

ronald, acute/inpatient - PT February 6, 2013 12:25 PM

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