On Learning To Listen, Shut Up, Take My Time & Be Different in the Current Healthcare Environment...A Different Kind of Physical Therapy in Seattle
This is my first blog post!
I want to officially welcome you to my blog and the new website for Butheau Physiotherapy. It has been a long time in the making and I could not be more proud of my little baby!
And I will start with something that is of actuality in the physical therapy world...I don't sugar coat things...I am not that kind of guy...
So you might be already familiar with physical therapy...or what you think is physical therapy...2 to 3 treatments a week...15-20 short minutes of one on one care with a physical therapist-if you're lucky, and the rest of your 30, 45, or 60mn “treatment” with someone that count reps, watch you exercise, “stick” you on a stationary bike, or an uber fancy/ new crazed/ mega fad piece of equipment.......let you lay on ice or heat for 20mn...with electrical stimulation? Maybe give you a bell in case you get too hot or cold in that back room, in the corner...How about these exercises? You were shown some of them to do at home as part of your rehab(or not if you are really unlucky)...and then you basically did the same ones...over...and over...for 6 weeks...twice a week...
Sure, you might have seen some progress...but you're still not able to do all the stuff you want to do and frankly you have been left less than impressed...especially since you have health insurance and still had a $30 co-pay each visit and have a $2000 deductible. I will let you do the math...
You also feel that , even though helpful, your physical therapist was somewhat in his own world, following cookie cutter protocols and, truly, treated you in the same way during each treatment...
You also felt that your one-on-one time with the PT was very limited and every conversation and hands on treatment felt rushed, that you were not listened to...which is really common if that PT is not given the adequate amount of time needed to just listen to his patients.
I am a firm believer that the success to a physical therapy treatment- and medical treatment for that matter, resides in the ability to actively take the time to listen to a patient describes his history, complaint/ symptoms, concerns, goals, fears, and personal preferences.
Sadly, this is a very rare occurrence in today's healthcare system and landscape. The fact that it's happening because of the rules laid down by insurances or by choice of a physical therapy company/business does not matter to me. This is not a model I agree with as it forces the level of care to decline (no matter how good and how many letters your PTs have behind their name), leaving both patient and therapist frustrated.
I believe my patients deserve my full attention over the entire course of their treatment, from initial evaluation to last visit.
Throughout my career, I have treated a variety of patient covering the human lifespan, in many different settings...patients from 6 to 107 years old... And I have heard many times “You do things so differently that my previous therapist”...“I can't believe you just let me tell my whole story...I was never given that much time by my doctor”, “you looked at my neck and lower back even though I am here because I sprained my ankle”... I have heard these comments and more upon multiple occasions.
This comments have helped me grow, improve and get better as a therapist...only because of one denominator: my patients. And yes, also because I took the time to occasionally shut up and listen...
I sincerely believe that a patient centered approach to care in physical therapy is key to success...For both the patient and the therapist.
It's about the time spent with the patient, time educating about a specific condition, about understanding pain, about understanding anatomy, applying it to specific movement and activity, repeating instructions if necessary, demonstrating proper movement and form, watching for crazy stuff your body might do to compensate, constantly reassessing my patient during treatment and after a visit, readjusting and changing treatment as necessary to promote better healing, better movement, better function, learn how to avoid or prevent what makes a specific condition worse, understanding your needs...
Yep, basically what they came to see me for in the first place!
I believe every patient is unique, with a different background, different story, different culture. And all this should be considered in a healthcare treatment. Through my career, I've learned to listen, turn off my inner voice and not make a conclusion or judgement until provided with ample amount of information. And taking or giving enough time for that listening and communication to happen is essential.
My approach is to empower my patient with the knowledge needed to take care, address and/or resolve what brought them in for physical therapy on their own, as soon as possible...which means not after 20 something visits of the same rehashed stuff.
Butheau Physiotherapy, the way it operates and treat each patient, has been a dream of mine since I graduated from University of Florida in 2002. I had the pleasure to work and learn with/from incredible people (both patients and clinicians) and I think it has helped me realize that being able to actively listen, give people and oneself enough time and be down to earth, genuine and different are what lead to the best results in physical therapy.
In regards to being different, physical therapist are like every other profession...there are great, good and terrible ones out there.
In this day and age, with the ability to get information at the touch of a finger, patient are better informed and anyone is given many options when it comes to choosing a therapist to do business with... Because healthcare, no matter what so many people in that field are saying or dread saying, is truly a business. And so when it comes to healthcare and physical therapy, just like any other service, the consumer is left with an ample list of choices...
And so my last advice for today would be to choose wisely, be picky, and shop around...You owe that to yourself and your health.
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