Physiotherapists, rehab trainers and patient motivation
It’s not always so easy to motivate oneself. And it’s even more difficult to motivate others. Here, empathy and conversational skills are especially called for. Those who succeed in motivating patients to exercise during therapy should leverage this opportunity and also provide them with the right recommendations for when therapy ends.
Successful therapy requires patient involvement
In Germany one section of society exercises on a regular basis, one only occasionally and the third section does not exercise at all. It is especially this third section that challenges therapists and rehab specialists because healing success presupposes patients’ active cooperation.
The reasons patients give for not exercising or not undergoing training are wide and varied. These can include constant lack of time, pain that does not fade or simply the fear of movement after an operation. Next to these clearly expressed reasons a lack of inherent motivation can also be the cause. This means patients lack the ability to really put into practice what they have undertaken to do.
Promoting patients’ inherent motivation
Although therapists or rehab specialists generally have very little time, they are needed as motivators for patients with little inherent motivation. This applies to the time where the patient has to repeat the therapy exercises by themselves rather than to the therapy itself. Motivation depends on how the information was imparted to the patient. They should understand that performing an exercise regularly is important for successful healing.
After receiving this information many patients do perform their exercises independently. But how do we deal with patients who are not even prepared to cooperate after a friendly reminder? Instructions or even threats rarely lead to sustainable behavioural change. It is key that patients accept their therapists or rehab specialists as conversational partners. So genuine empathy is called for.
Therapists and rehab specialists should see themselves as patrons and act accordingly. Smartly used open questions help patients realise the need for behavioural change. If possible, patients should receive positive feedback and feel their efforts are appreciated. Those using affirmation once the first set targets have been achieved also promote patients’ inherent motivation by doing so.
Motivate patients in therapy to exercise permanently
To ensure patients can permanently adhere to the training behaviour acquired during therapy, physicians, therapists and trainers should provide the corresponding information and motivation. To this end, exercising offers in a group on fixed dates are beneficial. Physicians can prescribe rehab-sport sessions funded by sickness funds. These can then be completed in corresponding health facilities, which also include more and more fitness clubs.
Physiotherapy practices can reap the benefits of their motivational work and recruit patients for their own commercial training division. This is how many physiotherapists have successfully established a second source of revenue.
Another example of successful motivation work comes care of a Düsseldorf-based physiotherapist. She encourages her patients to regularly attend joint training sessions at a fitness club. The negotiated cooperation benefits both the physiotherapist, the fitness club and the patients alike.
However, every patient starting out needs to know that their inherent inertia must be overcome for four, five or even better six weeks. Only then will the brain perceive exercising as a habit. Just as helpful is to mentally retain the positive feelings and pride felt after each training session. Whenever inertia comes back this feeling can be “recalled” as a weapon to fight it.