How to make the experience more fruitful for your child and you.
Physical therapy is different than going to a single doctor’s appointment. It is oftentimes a longer process with more appointments and more attention to detail. Here are suggestions to help make your experience better.
Know their goals and your goals
Setting goals and expectations from the get go is critical. Oftentimes the parent and child have different expectations of physical therapy. For example, the child may just want to resolve his or her pain while the parent wants a complete overhaul of body mechanics. It is important to talk with your child to get to the bottom of what they hope to get out of physical therapy. Getting on the same page with him/her paves the way for compliance, results, and less resistance.
Help him/her invest in their own care
Being on the same page with goals and expectations is the most important component of your child’s physical therapy experience and everything else is an extension of that. Your physical therapist should be connecting the dots between the interventions/exercises and your child’s goals. Reinforce these things at home. Help them “keep their eye on the prize” and make them accountable for their home program. Rather than automatically reverting to reminding them, ask your child how you might help them develop a system to keep on track with their home program after their first visit. Give your child ideas, but ultimately make them responsible for the final execution.
Being present during appointment vs. sitting in the lobby
Depending on your child’s age, your comfort level, and your child’s comfort level, it may be appropriate to ask the physical therapist whether you should be present during the appointment. There are circumstances when the parent waiting in the lobby allows the child to take more ownership of the process which overall helps outcomes. With that said, follow your gut because you know your child best.
Help them reflect on progress the day before their next visit
Some children are incredibly self-reflective, and this discussion will come easily. However, with younger, less aware children, the conversation may need to include a lot of leading questions. As the parent, you probably have already made observations that reflect progress, regression, or plateau. Help your child think about these and put them into their own words. This will allow them to initiate the update process at the beginning of their PT visit.
Positive Energy PT is focused on helping you and hopes that these suggestions will help make your experiences with your child’s physical therapy even better!