What Equipment Do You Need?
When I was in my outpatient neuro clinical rotation I learned a lot from my instructor about PNF skills as well as standing, kneeling and seated balance training. It was a lot of hands-on work and we didn't use a lot of equipment other than parallel bars and balance pads, and a mat table. The clinic set-up was simple yet effective; patients had what they needed but not a lot of high-tech gadgets I've seen at other facilities.
After graduating from physical therapy school, I became very familiar with budgeting. Every dollar had a place. That same budgeting concept probably applies to every physical therapy clinic. How do owners, supervisors and physical therapists prioritize their equipment needs? My style of treatment and the equipment I need to practice effectively may be very different from my colleague who requests entirely different supplies for her patients. What is the best way to mediate those differences so all patients have what they need during a physical therapy appointment?
There may be ways to offset an immediate equipment need, but it's also difficult to substitute for some supplies when you don't have them. Parallel bars offer a lot of functionality that can't be easily mimicked if they are needed by a patient. The best example I have of needing equipment at the right time was when I assisted patients with gait training in an inpatient setting and my patient was ready to transition from a wheeled walker to a cane. Finding a cane was somewhat difficult because they always seemed to be propped in a corner of a patient room, so I often used my hand as assist although this wasn't the same as the patient handling a cane independently.
This topic of equipment also ties in with the "lean" concept I wrote about two weeks ago. How do we make sure our clinics aren't wasteful with equipment and supplies? How do we remove excess or unnecessary equipment from our clinics? And, how do physical therapists think when budgeting for equipment and supplies? Do we invest in what patients need, in what we can market, or in both?