In professions, such as massage therapy and physiotherapy, exercises completed in the client's own time are just as important as the time they spend in the clinic with the therapist. It is a combined effort of the client and therapist to ensure an effective and speedy recovery.
Unfortunately, many patients fall off the bandwagon with their exercises. 65% of physiotherapy patient’s lack adherence to their prescribed home exercise programs. They forget to do them. They don’t know how to do them. They don’t realize the benefits related to them. The reasons are endless.
Patients are more likely to complete their at-home exercises if the deliverance of the exercise is related to a positive experience. One study, in particular, explored factors such as time consumption of the exercises, exercise complexity, effects of the exercise, and the care provider’s style at delivering explanations of the exercises.
There was less adherence to an exercise program when there was a huge time commitment and when the exercise was too complex. Simplifying exercises and adjusting the program throughout treatment can counteract these issues. Further, patients were more likely to do the prescribed exercises when there was a justifiable explanation for why they should do them. Explaining why they should strengthen or stretch out a certain muscle group or how it pertains to their injury can provide motivation and incentive for the patient to complete their exercises in their own time. Checking in at every appointment can further hold them accountable. Dependent on individual clinic setups, it may also be a viable option to have the patients not completing their exercises at home do so in the clinic before or after their manual treatment with the goal being to eventually transfer them to an at-home exercise program.
Today, practitioners can even use modern technology to simplify the exercise prescription process. The iBodyHEP (Home Exercise Program) is a great tool for therapist to maintain patient engagement. With over 2000 exercises to choose from, therapists can provide patients with prescribed exercises via email, videos, images, print, and track sheets. Lifestyle and condition packages can be selected or therapists can create their own program tailored to fit each client’s individual needs. Repetitions and sets can be established as per the recommendations of individual therapists.
The process of prescribing at-home exercises does not have to be difficult. Various strategies can be implemented to ensure clients complete their at-home exercises. Online applications can complement manual therapists’ treatment plans and promote higher adherence to patient home exercise programs. It further can keep therapists connected with their clients and can increase client engagement optimizing their treatment goals, keeping clients on track. As a professional manual therapist, it is important to explain to patients the reasoning behind exercise prescriptions throughout their treatment plan. Be sure to progress the exercises and take off any that have already been bumped up a level. Keep it simple for your patients. Start small. Explain the fundamentals. Given the correct tools and information, patients are more likely to adhere to their prescribed exercise program. No more excuses!