There Do Not Have to Be Plateaus
I have been in and out of physical, occupational, aqua and speech therapy for the past 24 years. Believe me when I say that I have seen and experienced just about all! As a result of my experiences, and many others’ experiences, we have developed some guidelines to maximize your therapy time to achieve the most success possible in your recovery.
In my last post, I described my especially important “Bag of Tricks” theory which you can find on this blog. Believe me, it works for many survivors, as it has for me.
Now, respectfully, I would like to offer some other suggestions to improve your therapy outcomes.
First, I have found that the more prepared you are when appearing for your evaluation appointment, the more you are taken seriously. That said,
- Make a list of your medications
- Make a list of what your deficits are, and
- What you hope to achieve during your therapy.
This is a great exercise for you, and your caregiver partner because it allows you to focus on your issues. You can prepare in the comfort of your home over a several day period. It also allows you to set priorities. What is most important, and what is important, but less so. Finally, you can use it as a guide in your early discussions with the center, and the therapy professionals to whom you have been assigned. These things all make a difference in your recovery.
Second, selecting the center you go for therapy, and the background of the therapist(s) you are assigned to is critical. If you are a stroke, or any kind of brain disease/injury survivor, you want someone with serious neuro training and experience. I do not mean a course they might have taken at some time with little reinforced experience. I want the bonafide’s – so do you!
Before proceeding, ask if the facility has neuro trained professionals during your first call. If you are not satisfied with the answer, call another facility.
Third, how a therapy center is structured. Therapy organizations are organized in two broad ways. Some are organized utilizing a team approach in which several members of the staff work as a team, rotating among their patients. In one of my experiences, I was assigned to a three-therapist team. Depending on when I came in for my session, I would see different members of the team.
In this approach the therapist typically sticks the patient on a machine so that they are occupied while the therapist reviews the case notes. Here is the problem in my opinion – your therapy time is drifting away while the notes are being read instead of treatment occurring. Frankly, for most patients – I think they are wasting their precious therapy time.
To be fair, an advantage of this approach is that it is easier to schedule appointments, particularly if you work or have other life obligations.
In the alternative organizational structure, the patient is treated by only one therapist for their entire engagement. Of course, there must be reasonably good chemistry to succeed. Having experienced both approaches, my preference, by far, is to be treated by one dedicated therapist for the entire engagement. You may ask why?
In the current therapy constrained healthcare environment every therapy minute counts. With one therapist, they know your situation and do not have to spend therapy time bringing themselves up to speed. The patient gets the benefit of the entire time. Remember, the objective of therapy is maximizing recovery progress. Time equals progress!
Fourth, is my “14-21-day rule”. After two to three weeks of therapy, assuming you attend two or three times per week, you should be able to see, or feel a difference – an improvement. Progress is being achieved! If you do not see or feel any difference – speak up if you have not already. Consider asking for a different therapist or seek out a different facility.
DO NOT WASTE YOUR THERAPY TIME! And, by the way, if you are going to therapy only once a week, I believe you are probably wasting your time.
Combine the “Bag of Tricks” strategy with the suggestions in this post to increase your chances of maximizing your recovery.
Please let me remind the reader – these are my opinions. I am not a physician or a therapist. Consult your physician for medical advice.
Stroke Recovery Foundation’s mission is YOUR success. We offer personal coaching to maximize recovery and assistance creating a constructive “New Me” lifestyle. All our coaches are survivors, so we have a sense of your challenges. To inquire, or with questions, please email info@StrokeRF.org.