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PTA Blog Talk

Twenty-Minute Workout

Published January 4, 2012 10:22 PM by Jason Marketti

For years I have read about the benefits of a 20-minute workout. I have come across some studies that showed an improvement of strength, endurance and weight loss within six to eight weeks. If this is true, why do we schedule rehab patients for an hour or more and see them for three months?

Restructuring how we are reimbursed could focus on outcomes rather than length of time a patient is in the rehab gym. If one therapist can get the same results in a shorter amount of time, wouldn't that be more beneficial for the patient, facility and insurance company? I think this would force us to rethink how we treat patients and how patients treat themselves. The patient would need to take more ownership of his care and do more independent activity.

Would one 20-minute session work? What about two 20-minute sessions? There are times I can thoroughly exhaust a patient in 15 minutes. Then I look at the clock and realize I have another 60 minutes of therapy with this person, plus he has OT and ST after me for 75 minutes each. Sometimes it doesn't seem fair to put a patient through so much therapy every day for weeks at a time when that person might be able to reap the same health rewards from shorter workout sessions.

3 comments

Thank you for the responses.

Most treatments are tailored individually, others are tailored for maximum reimbursement.  

The intention of the article was more about outcomes than actual time spent in therapy.  If we take the time example and apply it to surgery would it mean that the longer the surgery took, the better the results? And would it matter if one was ambulatory or not before the surgery? No. We look at the outcome of the surgery, was it successful for the patient.

The same can be applied to physical therapy.    

Jason Marketti January 8, 2012 9:55 PM

I think you've intertwined a few of concepts here - all merit discussion.

In terms of the 20-minute workout, I agree with Lisa in that this concept applies to healthy individuals.  Physical therapists are treating patients with some sort of deficit.  Completely different discussion.

An overarching goal should always be to make the patients as independent as possible, including them taking ownership of aspects of their recovery when appropriate.

If you "thoroughly exhaust a patient in 15 minutes" who has 3-75 minute therapy sessions each day, either the plan of care is unrealistic or you are not using wisdom in planning the treatment time.

The underlying current here is that the duration and frequency of physical therapy treatments should be individually tailored for each patient, his injury, and specific circumstances.  Always a good reminder.

Jane Goude January 8, 2012 8:41 PM

I think the 20-min workout is aimed towards people who are somewhat active throughout the day- for people who walk at work, who drive to work, who go grocery shopping.  For patients at a rehab center who sit stationary or stay in bed for the majority of the day, 20 minutes of exercise is not enough.

Lisa Mueller January 5, 2012 11:46 AM

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About this Blog


    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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