When leaving your physical therapy evaluation or the first follow up appointment, you will most likely be given some homework to do. Some may get similar programs depending on their injury, but they are all created with you in mind.
In case anyone was wondering how we create those programs we give you to do outside of therapy, here is a summed up re-cap:
When you arrive to your initial appointment there is usually a lot of talking. This narrative tells the therapist where the pain is, what caused it if you know, what irritates it, and maybe, what makes it feel better. This alone can give the therapist a good idea of what the problem may be. In poking around the injured area, and maybe in other areas we suspect could be an issue, we can find your tight muscles. We will do special tests that can give us a much better picture if we are looking at a muscle issue, tendon issue, bone issue, or maybe something you would need to see another medical provider for. When we test your strength, we can see if there is any weakness or muscle imbalances. Anything that is out of the ordinary is a little “flag” for us to note in your chart.
We take all of this information, throw it into our brain jars, shake it up, and pour it out in front of us. Sorting through all of this gives us a good picture of what’s going on and the immediate things that may be helpful in alleviating pain and maybe starting the strengthening process early. The frequency and intensity of the program may be different for everyone and if it seems to easy or too painful, you must let your physical therapist know.
As you progress in therapy, so should your home exercise program. Usually things will eventually be replaced after some are added on. The older exercises that you aren’t doing anymore, put those in a folder and hang on to them just in case. If you are unsure which ones you should be doing (sometimes the exercises in therapy sessions are different than the home ones), be sure to ask your therapist which ones you should be doing out of the ones you have been given. A solid and effective 3-4 exercises and 2-4 stretches, taking up no more than 10 minutes of a day (once or twice a day) is usually all it takes to facilitate healing in most cases.
Your program is made with you in mind. It is created to address your “flags” that came up in the evaluation that we need to work on to make you better. This may change over the course of your treatment as you start to improve and, eventually, you may never have to do them again. Because this program is specifically for you and your issues, it is a critical part of your healing process. So please be sure to take the time out for yourself and get them done to the frequency your therapist has told you. We want to get you better as quickly as we can!