Clinical Conversations

Physical Therapy from the Patient Perspective

Physical Therapy from the Patient Perspective

Nick Rinard is not only a colleague whom I hold in high esteem, he is also my physical therapist!  I’d like to share with you 5 things that I found interesting about my experience being a patient at our clinic:

  • The verbal reference scale for pain: It is very difficult to assign a quantitative number to pain level! Pain is such a variable experience, that reducing it to a 2 or a 4 just doesn’t completely describe the character or behavior of the symptom.
  • Assigning a score to functional difficulty: I was stumped when Nick asked me to rate the difficulty of a daily task. I now understand why so many patients struggle to respond concisely to the question.
  • The power of touch: Trusting someone to handle your painful body part can be daunting. However, I found the confidence and surety of Nick’s steady hands to be very reassuring.  I was able to quickly relax and allow him to passively move my ankle and foot.
  • Listen before acting: I had to direct my mind to an attentive listening mode rather than an anticipatory listening mode.  By this, I mean that if I was constantly attempting to guess what Nick’s next instructions would be, I was keeping my mind occupied instead of open.  Being a physical therapist, I had to step away from my usual role of planning the care, and instead actively listen so that I could follow Nick’s lead.
  • Expect greatness: Before seeking help, I had been limping around for two weeks stubbornly trying to ignore my pain. I was skeptical but hopeful that Nick could help me.  I should have expected greatness – by the next day, I was already noticing positive improvements in my gait!

Thank you for your help, Nick!  You are the physical therapist of choice for this physical therapist!

Margo Burette, PT, DPT