|Those who select a career influenced by western medicine, end up breathing, eating, and sleeping various pathologies and conditions and their “textbook interventions.” A new graduate is eager and able to implement these interventions. Unfortunately, “taking two aspirin or performing 10 repetitions of an exercise” may actually be a limited treatment plan, as individuals respond differently to interventions. As a medical practitioner (physical therapist), I am certainly not discounting how modern advancements in western medicine can both prolong and improve the quality of one’s life. I am merely suggesting to be open to other therapies.
When I first started practicing, I did not participate in the above paradigm. Early in my career, a patient with knee arthritis was treated with the same protocol: specific exercises and modalities for pain management and swelling. I soon discovered that even though patients may have had the same pathologies, some got better, and some did not. I could not grasp why some did not heal, until I took the time to listen to a grieving patient. She had lost her husband a few months before, and recently, seemed to have come down with multiple ailments. I spent a short period listening to her concerns, including learning new responsibilities she was not accustomed to, and being alone. The next time I saw her, she reported feeling much better (and I thought that the leg lift exercises were finally kicking in.)
After that experience, I started really listening to my patients. Some had minor requests like using heat before a treatment, or doing exercises in a different position. Some just needed someone to listen to them a few moments. Although listening is not new or innovative, sometimes one may forget the influence it can have on healing.
Dyan Quesada, MPT, ATC
Director, Get to the Core