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PTA Blog Talk

A Safe Environment

Published November 21, 2012 4:14 PM by Jason Marketti

A therapist's gym is a multipurpose room not only for the staff but also patients. For the staff, it's used for in-services, luncheons and meetings. For the patients we see, the gym is used for exercises to get stronger, a place to encourage and become encouraged by others, and a safe place to express frustrations.

Often when I'm with patients in the gym, they'll tell me about their family struggles or a difficult nurse the night before. The patients open up about their lives the more they are with me in the gym. The gym becomes a confessional room of sorts where patients can express themselves to us without guilt of reprisal, although I'm quite stunned by what some of the patients have told me.

One spoke about a pipe bomb that he built and what it was for. The bomb exploded in his basement and he was being seen for wound care. He also tried to sell me an AK-47. One patient spoke of writing all her children out of the will because they were going to her house to claim items while she was in the SNF. I politely declined to sign as a witness on some forms a lawyer brought to her.

Quite a few patients have told me about medications or home remedies they've brought from home. Of course I let the nurse know about it. I'm always surprised by what a patient will tell me next when we are alone in the gym. There are patients who will complain about their families and neighbors who come to visit. I've heard so many stories and so-called "family secrets" that I could write a hundred five-minute mysteries to bedazzle even Edgar Allan Poe.


I think it is the fact that we spend more one on one time with a patient than any other profession. Doctors and nurses are in and out. Nurses who work 12 hour shifts 3 days a week turn over very quickly for patients, where PTs tend to be more consistent.

I've also heard it said that people are more likely to talk intimately to a passenger on the bus than to someone in their own family. Strangers are safe, no history, no future, just present in the moment.

We have to be present in the moment to see what is happening with the patient, if they are improving or if they are working in the ways we are trying to facilitate. How many other professions do that?

Dean Metz November 21, 2012 7:42 PM

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About this Blog

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