Those words will never come out of my mouth! I have made mistakes during my career and I am sure I will make more. The key is to learn from your mistakes and grow from them. Everyone makes mistakes, but you can take a negative experience and turn it into a positive one by learning from it and growing.
Far too often, many physical therapists make the same mistakes over and over again.
This is a common saying in American society. In regards to the world of physical therapy, the 1st time, we make a mistake, it’s a mistake. We learn from it!
If we continue to make the same mistake over and over again, then it is on us for not having learned from it and rectified how we practice.
I have made these 3 common mistakes, but I can personally say that I have learned from them and have gotten better about not continuing to make the same mistakes over and over again.
The 3 Biggest Mistakes Physical Therapists Make
Mistake #1. No Test-Retest
The idea of not testing something to attain a baseline just doesn’t make sense. The idea of testing something to attain a baseline and then NOT re-testing to see if there has been a positive or negative change doesn’t make sense EITHER.
Years ago, there have been times I would do the same treatment session after session and not test-retest.
What was I thinking!?
Now, that I have grown as a clinician, I make sure that I am consistently testing and re-testing to prove to myself that the treatment I just performed worked! But also to prove to the patient that there has been a positive change as well!
Test-retest can consist of:
Range of Motion
Movement Assessment such as the Selective Functional Movement Assessment
Many PT’s get in their comfort zone and just keep doing the same thing treatment session after treatment session.
In order to raise our profession up, we need to make sure what we are doing is actually working.
Mistake #2: No Progressive Overload
Consistently performing the same reps and sets scheme is not only going to put your client into a boredom coma, but they will not improve.
If 3 sets x 10 reps or the same weight continues to be used day after day, the client will eventually plateau. The body needs to continue to be challenged.
The concept of “progressive overload” means you are continually trying to challenge the person’s muscular, neuromuscular, cardiovascular, pulmonary systems, etc. in order to make positive improvements.
If you are constantly prescribing the same weight for 3 sets x 10 reps, improvements may occur for the short-term, but the patient or client will eventually plateau.
Therefore, using progressive overload principles such as:
Increasing Reps and/or Sets
Decreasing Rest Periods
Increasing Time of Eccentrics
There are many ways someone can be challenged. By implementing progressive overload, we can transform the physical therapy profession to program similarly to the worlds of personal training and strength and conditioning.
Mistake #3: Lack of Patient Education
In any realm, whether it be personal training, nutrition, physical therapy, etc., it should be our duty to help educate our clients and patients on what has been contributing to their diagnosis and also to educate them on ways to rectify it.
Far too often, PT’s educate their clients on what the rotator cuff is or what an ACL tear is, but that is usually the extent of it.
If your patient or client continues to come in and their pain is consistently when they wake up in the morning or after driving home from work, dig a little deeper!
Ask them to show you how they sleep and what positions they sleep in if they are having pain when they wake up in the morning.
Ask them to show you how they sit in their car if they are having pain after driving home from work.
Whatever the activity may be, make sure to dig a little deeper and inquire about how long they are performing said activity, the position, etc.
More often than not, by asking the right questions, you will get the answers you are looking for. By addressing the small, mundane activities, those small little things can add up to some big effects in how your patients move and feel.
So, make sure you are testing-retesting, progressively overloading your clients, and educating your clients on potential factors throughout their daily lives that may be contributing to their pain and dysfunction.
Here I will be writing and posting about topics ranging from physical therapy, injury prevention/reduction, and strength and conditioning.