As physical therapists, we have the unique opportunity to work with people that come from all different walks of life, careers, and types of athletic participation. In order to make each patient’s experience personalized, it is our responsibility as clinicians to educate ourselves about each individual in order to gain their trust and allow for the maximal benefit of our care.
With regards to a patient’s background, religion, culture, and social status, it is best advised to ask that patient in a respectful and non-judgmental manner. It is also important to maintain their privacy and take into consideration other patients within ear shot of the conversation so as not to offend other patient’s. If there is a desire to learn more even after discussing the topic with the patient, you can always ask them to suggest a good resource for your own education.
When a patient comes in with a work injury (or even if they did not injure themselves at work) it is important to have a full understanding of their job responsibilities and the physical demands placed upon them at work. It is also important to understand the stress level of their profession, especially with diagnoses that are largely stress related such as cervicalgia or lumbago. Some other great resources for information on job descriptions, PDL, and activities that are helpful with goal writing are listed below.
Finally, when a patient athlete comes into your clinic and they participate in a sport that you are not familiar with or play a position that you are not familiar with, it is your responsibility as a clinician to look it up. You will gain that athlete’s confidence when you become comfortable with speaking to them about their sport in terms that they can understand, as well as gain their trust. In the past, I have used video, pictures, text books, and the internet to research sport specific information as well as asking the patient to bring in their equipment and go through sport specific motions in order to customize their treatment.
The more you familiarize yourself with each patient and customize each patient experience, the more positive experience you create for the patient and therefore allow for maximal healing benefits of your care.
Christine recieved her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Widener University in 2005. She is also a board certified clinical specialist through the American Physical Therapy Association in Sports Physical Therapy and is a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA.