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Raising the Bar in Rehab

Do Patients Use Evidence?

Published November 1, 2013 3:22 PM by Lisa Mueller

Some of the research articles I've read recently have been about running, including the biomechanics of running and associated absorbed forces. Two years ago, I took a weekend CE course specifically about running. I'm interested in the progression from gait patterns to running patterns, and as a runner I hoped the information I learned would carry over into better patient care.

A recurring theme in these courses and articles has been the comparison of a "traditional" heel strike to an anterior landing at initial impact. So, over the past few months I've altered my running pattern to see if I could feel any difference between the two. Would I feel less LE impact if I changed to an anterior landing? Would my stride be longer with a heel strike? A few times I've actually laughed at myself as I've flipped between the two patterns because it resulted in me almost skipping when my coordination couldn't keep up!

As I've thought about these things and played around with my running pattern, I've wondered if patients of physical therapy do the same thing. Do you share recent research articles, or things you've learned at CE courses with your patients? Do you show them the articles, or handouts from the class?

There's one article from 2007 that I keep a copy of at my desk relating hip weakness to knee pain. I share it with a lot of my patients with knee injuries. Most patients really appreciate the information, and it almost seems to "inspire" them to consider all the factors contributing to their diagnoses.

I think the challenge I encounter most is having time to find research articles for patients. I have a hard time finding time to read them for myself, much less for my entire patient load! So, I've made a small goal for myself to find one article a week that pertains to my current patients and share it with them. Hopefully I can find an article with a simple takeaway message that my patients can understand, and one that isn't too lengthy.

What do you think? How does evidence-based practice transfer from physical therapists to the patients they care for?

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I agree, newer information can be found but I wasn't focused on that in this blog article.  I'm wondering if patients even use the research we find on their behalf.

To your point, I agree, there is probably a lot of new information published since my article from 6 years ago, but where do we draw the line of "outdated" material?  Are all research articles over 5 years old now worthless, to be completely disregarded?  I don't really think so, especially if the content of the research isn't likely to change in a 5 year span-- but perhaps I am wrong.  Thanks for your feedback!  

Lisa Mueller November 3, 2013 12:56 PM

You give a 6 year old article to patients?  Surely there is newer information available.   Current information should be delivered to patients not 1/2 a decade old.  I am sure you have access to relevant information through the APTA, use it, or do the research yourself.

Karen November 3, 2013 11:57 AM

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