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The Magic 9: Tips On How To Motivate Patients In Physical Therapy

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

Surprisingly, just 35% of individuals receiving physiotherapy actually follow through with their home exercise program (HEP). The remaining 65% admit that they lack motivation, didn’t comprehend the directions, or couldn’t fit the recommended HEP into their schedule.

However, how can you be sure that your patients are among the 35%? We’ve included 9 tried-and-true motivational techniques for physiotherapists in this article.

Define The Hopes, Desires, And Fears Of Your Patient

Your patient is receiving therapy for a reason. Your responsibility is to find this underlying drive for rehabilitation and nurture it.

Do they wish to resume playing their preferred sport? Do they merely long for the days of pain-free playtime with their children? Or do they get treatment simply because their insurance will pay for it?

To motivate patients, employ open-ended inquiries, genuine curiosity about the responses, and strategies like motivational interviewing.

Set Realistic Rehabilitation Objectives

Complete rehabilitation may seem like an elusive, far-off goal for someone recovering from a severe injury—precisely the objective that inspires resistance and procrastination.

Break the overarching objective of leading a pain-free, healthy life into manageable steps. SMART objectives are a useful goal-setting tool that you can use if you’re unsure how to go about it.

The idea of SMART goals isn’t just management speak; it’s a tried-and-true strategy used in various fields. SMART objectives are:






Give Details About Physical Therapy

Assist your patient in fully comprehending the healing process. You don’t have to go into specific technicals, but make sure to give the patient an overview and respond to any queries they might have.

Improvement is rarely quick and linear in physical therapy. Therefore, how much progress the patient achieves has a significant impact on motivation. When there is a plateau or a brief setback, keeping their motivation high will be easier if they can see the broader picture.

Include The Patient In The Rehabilitation Plan Creation

Nobody enjoys having their freedom restricted. Many of your patients already experience a sense of helplessness and powerlessness due to their injuries and pain. When people are made to perform exercises they don’t understand, it just reinforces the pain and helplessness.

As an alternative, assist your patients in regaining control over their health.

Keep in mind that while you are an expert in physiotherapy, your patient is the foremost authority on themselves. When creating the workout program, establishing goals, and selecting individual activities, let them have a say.

Clarify Your Instructions And Steer Clear Of Technical Jargon

Some therapists believe that utilizing technical and medical jargon enhances their credibility. Jargon, however, merely serves to perplex patients and create pointless obstacles.

Your patient might become too embarrassed and perplexed to inquire after being inundated with technical words, choosing to disregard the HEP.

Patients frequently don’t ask questions during the therapy session, but they do when performing the HEP.

During Rehabilitation Exercises, Aim For Engagement

Since rehab might extend for several months, many patients lose interest. Going through the motions, though, is neither enjoyable nor productive. A disgruntled patient is on your hands when progress stagnates, and the pain reappears.

Gamification is one tried-and-true strategy to keep patients interested throughout the course of their recovery. The majority of people enjoy using apps and playing games, and because to its sci-fi allure, device rehab is much more appealing.

Provide A Mixture Of Recovery Content

Yes, working out in the water has its benefits. What if, however, your patient despises water? Make sure you include a variety of activities and equipment types. Offer a substitute if your patient claims a certain tool is uncomfortable or unavailable.

Every patient demands a rehabilitation plan specifically tailored to their needs and preferences. To avoid offering similar programs to everyone, take them seriously.

Be Sure To Remain Positive

Progress is rarely swift and linear in physical therapy. Months may pass after a severe injury before rehabilitation is complete, and setbacks are common. It makes sense that patients frequently feel disappointed or even upset.

However, empathy and a positive outlook can be effective. Celebrate each victory, no matter how tiny. Be lavish with your compliments because there is a proven link between positive feedback and patient compliance.

Change The Course By The Patient’s Suggestions

Even if you disagree with some patients’ opinions, pay attention to what they say. Although it may be tempting to brush off such concerns as mere justifications, the truth is that many people lack the time for exercise, are easily distracted, or dislike particular pieces of equipment.

Assist your patient in scheduling the HEP. Exercises that they don’t find compelling can be changed or replaced. Show them how to use the physical therapy application if there’s something they don’t understand.

Key Takeaways

Even in trying times like the COVID-19 pandemic, genuine empathy, a personalized approach to goal-setting, and a thoughtfully planned physical therapy program are essential to igniting and keeping your patient’s motivation.

At Dependable Care Staffing, we believe that one of the most significant health care challenges facing our country is ensuring that Americans with severe chronic illnesses can remain as independent as possible.

Meeting this challenge, Dependable Care Staffing ensures quality and compassionate service to our home health patients.

Our therapists not only have extensive experience but always handle patients with the deep respect that patients duly deserve.


The information provided on the site is for educational purposes only, and does not substitute for professional medical advice.

Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you're seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.

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