Time Off Work
A recent study of surgeons who had a couple days off work showed an increase in patient mortality rates when they came back to the hospital and performed CABG surgery. This increase may have been from scheduling the sickest patients first, who would not have survived regardless of when the surgery was performed, or from a lack of attention to detail and being out of practice with the surgery team. There was also a noticeable decrease in costs when a surgeon came back to work, which may be attributable to surgeons not ordering tests they normally would after a surgery.
So what would happen after a week or two off in the therapy field? Would we forget details, hand placements, basic exercises? Would we be able to properly educate patients on hip and back precautions or are we so skilled in performing our art that information stays with us forever? After I took a couple of months off in 2004, I struggled with my first few patients. After a week, I was back in full swing like I never left. I did forget some information but that was quickly recovered with a home review of details on the patient's limitations.
I would suspect that time in the field has a lot to do with how we perform after being away for a while. The longer we do an activity, the more innate it would become. Like throwing a baseball or hitting a golf ball. The more we practice and perfect what we do in the chosen profession, the easier it is to remember exactly how to do it and how to respond when we need to adjust and adapt to changes.
When I had surgery and took a three-month leave, I actually did more research into what we do than I had ever done before. I looked at evidence, patient responses to what we do, muscle actions, almost anything that dealt with our profession so I could better understand patient perspectives and what they look for in a therapist. The time off was well spent for me and I didn't miss a beat when I came back to work.