I have been in and out of therapy now for more than 25 years since my stroke. And during this time, I have learned a few things about how to manage my therapy to maximize my results, in the context of the therapy dollars available.
Note, and important, is that the approach that I am going to describe can be used for other maladies and diseases besides stroke though, I focus on stroke recovery, my primary issue.
The theory I have created is called, ‘The Empty Bag Theory ‘™and it goes like this.
Every therapist is educated in different schools, and they have had different patients and experiences. Also, they have been therapists for different amounts of time in different rehab centers where they probably have been exposed to various training and protocols. And often they have developed specialties, such as neuro or hips, for example. So, what I am trying to say is that therapists, who, incidentally, I have tremendous respect for, are not commodities where they are all quite similar, though, in my experience, they are often treated that way.
Patients plateau at some point when working with a therapist. Progress stops and eventually, usually sooner, insurance terminates, and the patient figures that this is the best that can be achieved.
However, in my personal experience, and others of our clients, this is not necessarily correct. What they really have done is plateaued with that therapist. They have emptied that therapist’s ‘Bag of Tricks’ and it is time to go on to another therapist, to take a shot at their ‘Bag of Tricks.’ If that new therapist is any good, they will have something new which could result in improvements towards an improved lifestyle.
Admittedly, my technique requires extra work and diligence. The patient must be very conscious of their recovery status and as soon as they feel that they are plateauing, stop working with that therapist. Nothing against the therapist! But you, the survivor, do not want to waste your therapy dollars. They are precious!
Said another way – my theory does not accept that a final plateau has been reached! I believe that, yes, a plateau has been reached, but only with that therapist. You have emptied their ‘Bag of Tricks.’ Now it is time to start, perhaps after a short therapy vacation, being treated by another therapist who has their own ‘Bag of Tricks’ to be emptied.
Assuming you are making progress this can go on for some time. Remember, in stroke recovery, as in other diseases, every little bit counts in the survivors, and their caregiver partners’ lives.
While you might not get back to the way you were, maybe there are coping strategies to be learned, and each therapist may bring something new to the party.
And finally, all progress should be celebrated. The summation of this progress can be life-changing.
Stroke Recovery Foundation offers a service called Life Coaching for Stroke Survivors in which our survivor team helps implement this, and other life-changing strategies. For more information, please contact bobm@StrokeRF.org.
Bob Mandell – Founder