4-Ways to Stick to Your Physical Therapy Homework

Motivating yourself to stick to an at-home physical therapy regimen can be tough, but it’s crucial for recovery. “The overwhelming  majority of folks tend to feel like, ‘Oh, I’ll just do it’ and fail to recognize that it’s really hard to change any behavior,” says Kevin Masters, clinical health psychology professor at the university of Colorado Denver. People can also face time constraints, lack motivation or simply forget.

“But if you want the treatment to work, it’s important to follow your PTs orders. In fact, the work at home is just as –if not more– important than the time patients spend in the clinic, says Jessica B. Schwartz, a PT in New York and spokeswoman for the APTA. “My work can only take them so far,” she says. But when patients are completely committed to their treatment plan, they’re going to hit this thing out of the park,” she says.

Here are four tips on how to do that:

  1. Find a purpose: Identifying a broader purpose for being in good health-whether it’s going to the Olympics or being able to bike ride with your partner-is a great way to stay committed to your at-home regimen, Master says. When you link your treatment to the kind of person you want to be, it can help you stay motivated for the long haul, he says. PTs can help patients make the connection between the exercises and their purpose by setting smaller goals along the way, says Schwartz.
  2. Meet your match: To build your connection, Schwartz recommends calling offices or clinics (in our case call Carousel!), “You have to find the right person and place for you,” she says.
  3. Be Honest: Better than keeping mum or lying is simply speaking up. When you’re honest, you can better work together to figure out what’s holding you back-be it pain, time management, or just disinclination toward exercise-and how to overcome it, says Sionnadh McLean, an expert in movement and function at Sheffield Hallam Univ. in the United Kingdom. Any good physical therapist won’t judge, she adds.
  4. Strategize: Time! is the No. 1 reason patients say they have trouble doing their homework. Masters says the “how” part of completing your homework comes down to being honest with yourself. But most exercises don’t take more than 10-minutes each day, Schwartz says, so it’s more often a matter of not finding time than not having time.

(a US News & World Report Article on the importance of finding the right physical therapist match can increas the likelihood of follow-through.) Aug. 31, 2015