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Raising the Bar in Rehab

Common Therapist Sayings

Published June 29, 2012 3:50 PM by Lisa Mueller

There are a lot of phrases I say to my patients to emphasize certain parts of their recovery. I repeat many of them a lot, to the point where I feel a bit like a broken record. I have noticed this with my coworkers as well -- I can hear them saying similar sentences to patients. I looked at these phrases and tried to find patterns or similarities between them.

"Hate me today, love me tomorrow" -- a new one I heard recently. Therapy can be painful, in many ways. Patients sometimes focus on the pain and have a hard time seeing the gains they are making. This phrase is a subtle way of reminding them that each day gets better.  

"Work within your successful threshold" -- a favorite of mine. At first the sound of the multiple "S's" at the end of the phrase distracted me away from the meaning. It's a way of telling people to simply work within their own capabilities and not focus on their deficits. When I get discouraged during a long run, or struggle with a task, I sometimes say this to myself.

"You are the captain of your own ship" -- one I probably use the most. I can educate my patients, tell them my recommendations and review the expected plan of care... but ultimately the decisions are theirs because it is their body and their life. They have the right.

"Motion is lotion." This is the perfect phrase to tell patients who are particularly guarded or hesitant to move. Starting with a little bit of movement can relax the joint or body part enough to allow even more mobility. Many times just that small amount of movement is enough to help patients restore functional movement patterns.

"Do you have any questions?" Ah, another favorite. Health care can be complicated. At times many providers are part of a patient's care and it can be overwhelming for the patient. Rushed appointments with physicians and poor communication between providers often results in a confused patient. I like to offer my patients an opportunity to ask questions about any part of their care. It's surprising how often patients need further clarification of a procedure, or work restrictions, or even the anatomy of their injury. I drag out the copy of Netter's in our office and explain as much as I can.

What about you? Do you have common phrases you say to your patients or their families?


"Does that make sense" is one I use alot.  If the patient does not understand the information given, it needs to be explained in a form they will understand.  

Jason Marketti June 30, 2012 9:16 PM

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