This is the person you are trying to help

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In walks your 2pm evaluation. Well, not really…they scoot in backwards, sitting on their four-wheeled walker complaining about how long the medical history form is and “why do you need to know all that stuff?” A long past medical history is fine, you can handle that, you can synthesize how 10 years of uncontrolled diabetes mixes with COPD, a back problem they’ve had “since they were 19” and the multiple progressive knee scopes and procedures they’ve had.

During the interaction, however, the person is “off.” They don’t interact with the ease and simplicity that you do with your staff, your friends or the prior patient. You can’t quite describe it well. Continue reading

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N=1

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N=1 has turned into a symbol,  a representation meaning to treat a person as an individual, as a unique complex being that has personal factors and history that make them who they are. (see the mountain stream analogy via Aaron Swanson.) When we speak about treating the person in front of us we can say “N=1.”

This is being championed by many groups. The “Pain Science crowd” certainly incorporates individualism and biopsychosocial constructs.  Cause Health is bringing awareness, and I’ll also recommend Neil Maltby’s blog: Becoming More Human. Continue reading

Patient Education Binder

Seeing is believing. It can be also expressed as “only physical or concrete evidence is convincing” which you surely have heard as a popular argument on many fronts.

Well, your patients are human, and thus, adding physical evidence to your statements or positions can aid in understanding and spur conversation.

Dr. Spencer Muro ( @SpencerMuro ) suggested that, when educating pt’s on pain science or imaging results, we use the above concept to corroborate our “claims.” Use visible evidence, not just repeat it verbally. Enter: The Patient Education Binder.

We used to show patient’s pictures of these images on our phones, but a print-our hard copy in large font is more useful and meaningful (personal anecdote). So we did not make these images, and I will give credit to the maker’s / authors of them. I asked The Sports Physio ( @AdamMeakins ) to tweet some of them, PainCloud.com ( @PainCloud1 ) produces great stuff, the rest are found on Twitter or a search engine. Disclaimer disclaimer etc.  (Most credit is available on the image itself). They are great representations of current understanding.

If they help us understand, why not share with your patient? Continue reading

G O A L !

What you perceive today as a struggle is not truly due to the task at hand. It has to do with what the goals of the activity are.

The goal determines how the steps will play out. A worthy goal can bring you through any tough time. If the outcome is not of interest to you, no simple/light task is easy. It’s all a struggle if the goal is not meaningful. Continue reading

The advice we give

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Do this drill: Ask yourself “Do you think that everything you believe or think about the world is the truth?”  (Most thinking people will say ‘no.’) Follow-up with this question: “What are you wrong about?” … hmm…

We often think our way of thinking and understanding the world is correct. Well, we always think we are correct and act on it, but we know deep down that, since we are human, we cannot always be right. This is besides the point a bit, but this post deals with our advice, our own beliefs in what we and others should do. Sometimes there is a disconnect. Continue reading

Experience and the Experiment

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“Dad, let’s do an experience” my 6.5 year old said to me this morning. “Let’s see how far away these walkie-talkies can go and we can still hear each other.”

“Do you mean experiment?” I ask. “Yes, ex-per-i-ment” she says. We go over its pronunciation a few times. It’s a mix between my daughter having no front teeth and that she just gets her word choices mixed up now and then. Experience. Experiment. It’s an easy one to slip up on, plus they could be viewed in the same category in her head. “I will have an experience and learn something.” “I will do an experiment and learn something.” Same thing, basically, to a 1st grader.

So, you can see this question coming: Do you get Experience and Experiment mixed up? Continue reading

Cervical Artery Dissection: Implications for the Physical Therapist A Case Report from a Direct Access Environment

Intro:

You receive a call from your friend and fellow DPT classmate to evaluate her neck… the patient herself is a physical therapist by occupation. A healthy and fit 29 year old female, 5’0″, 115lbs. She reports she is having some cervical musculoskeletal issues going on. She has an achy pain in the bilateral upper traps., levator scapula, and peri-cervical muscles. She is limited by pain with the following cervical motions: right side-bend, right rotation and extension. No signs of central or peripheral neurological issues.

You are an experienced PT and have completed many cervical manipulations on a patient like this and it’s the end of your day. So you are going to do a quick favor for a friend and manipulate her neck, complete some STM, and maybe some PROM/SNAGs/isometrics/METs or whatever your favorite manual therapy technique is. What could go wrong? She’s a therapist herself so she wouldn’t miss anything serious. Being that you are friends you want to do some “magic” giving her some relief of symptoms. So… snap, crackle, manip. You move into some PROM and she reports severe vertigo, nausea, double vision, and you notice hemi-facial asymmetries as she talks about her onset of symptoms. Now what?  Your table, your hands, your patient. Continue reading

The Crossroads of Philosophy and Physiology (Part 2): Where We Missed the Mark on Pain Education.

 

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And you’d be surprised… the answer goes further back than you might think.

So if you read Part 1, we left with a series of questions — all boiling around the conundrum of what I will call “the pain education lag.” This can be defined as the time it takes for the education to take an effect (i.e. reduction of aberrant pain). Essentially, you provide a treatment, but it’s possible for no effect to be seen immediately (and its also highly likely for this to occur in such a delayed fashion). And this is something that is significant. Other treatment effects take place immediately. Yet, with pain education Continue reading

Searching for Certainty

This past week I had a few instances that made me feel quite inadequate as a therapist. The first was a patient with knee pain and the other was a patient with neck pain. In both visits I managed to use up everything I knew, every decision path and subsequent treatment solution. And I got… no within session change.

Dammit.

As it happens I was stuck with the uncertainty of their treatments, their prognosis, and the uncertainty of my ability to be effective. I knew what bothered them, I thought I knew Continue reading

Think about it…

How do I help my patient get better? It may depend on many things, the disease, injury, co-morbidities, etc. And in many cases it can be hard to ignore big factors that “stand in the way” of recovery. Some patient’s are just tough. Complex. Hopeless.

Of course, we make sure to keep a mask on. We attempt to prevent our patients from seeing Continue reading