Efosa is the founder of Physical Therapy Haven
One of my favorite elements of our profession is how it parallels life in so many ways. An example of this is in that first marvelous moment when we meet our patient. That moment is a very crucial moment; a very special one. I like to call it the First Connection. It is in that First Connection that the physical and the personal meet. Physical Therapy and one's overall health is a very personal concept because our patients aren’t coming to us to get their computer fixed or their car fixed or even their new Xbox Kinect fixed. Our patients that walk into our clinics or that are transferred to our hospitals are in a vulnerable situation in which they are seeking our help. They are hoping that we can bring them to a better state both physically, and in many cases emotionally as well. Even the toughest of patients need time to feel at ease. The field of health comes with so many possibilities, yet it presents so many unknowns. If you look close enough into your patient’s eyes, you can sense them wondering, "Can my practitioner make me better again? Will I ever reach my goals?" It is our job to elicit confidence in our patients by displaying great skills with our hands, as well as motivating them with our words. Genuine words of encouragement and care are needed. Our patients can sense if we genuinely care for them and once they come to that realization, they will follow you through prone press-ups, bridges, gait training, and any other exercise/activity/instruction that you may give them. This all happens in the First Connection – from the moment you make eye contact and shake their hand to introduce yourself, you need to be there emotionally as well as physically and you need be the best that you can be. Blow them away with kindly attentiveness and personal care and you will be on the road to cooperative success. I think this approach and appreciation of people is what makes our profession so beautiful.
At my job, we finish each evaluation with a letter of commitment. I personally thank each patient for coming in, and I let them know how personal my company and I take it that they chose us. I let them know that we will be a team, and that lines of communication will always be open. I let them know we are in this together. I let them know that I care.
Yesterday a patient opened up to me and another physical therapist at my clinic. She said that she really wanted a chance to thank us. After her injury prevented her from doing the things she loved to do, she cried every day for weeks before starting physical therapy. Yet as she has gotten better over the last few weeks and has built a rapport with the staff at the clinic she says that she is ten times happier. “You have no idea how grateful I am to be getting closer to doing the things that I used to do,” she says, “I am in a much better place and a big part of it is because of physical therapy and the support of you all – so thank you.” Moments like those are why I love this profession: From the First Connection and beyond.
Efosa is the Founder of Physical Therapy Haven. He received his B.S. in Kinesiology from Umass-Amherst, and his Physical Therapy Doctorate from the University of Scranton. He is driven by his love for this profession which allows us to use our hands and words to help others. The site contains rehabilitation resources geared towards rehab clinicians and it includes videos, study guides, as well as links to other useful sites.