“Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me and I’ll understand” -Confucius
All too often when working with a patient we forget that they do not understand what we do. They are not immersed in the chiropractic world where it is normal to seek out an adjustment before all other forms of treatment, or to talk about good posture, or think about core strengthening exercises. Chiropractic Assistants or Chiropractic Therapy Assistants often have more contact with the patient than any other person in the office. That is why it is important to remember to take the time to make sure patients not only are doing the exercises or following their treatment plan, but that time is taken to educate on the importance of what chiropractic care is all about and what the value is in the home care routines we give them.
Just giving a patient a sheet of exercises to read or showing them how to stretch one time WILL NOT WORK. Patients MUST understand at some basic level how adjustments correct function in their spine, the reasons why posture is so important, why muscle imbalances will create injury recurrences, and how simple changes to their activities of daily living make a difference in their long term health and wellness. Taking a few minutes to adequately explain why these things are important can make the difference between a satisfied patient who becomes a voice for chiropractic care and a patient who “gave it a try” but ultimately discontinued their care.
Below are some tips on getting your patients to take an active/educated role in their care. Many of these are “easy” things they can focus on at home as an addition to the care they receive in the office.
- BREATHE!!! – Patients who are in pain want to hold their breath with movements that hurt. Holding their breath actually increases pressure within their body which creates more pain. Have your patient practice consciously exhaling as they move. If a family member is with the patient teach the to repeatedly remind the person to “Breathe Out” as they move until the practice becomes habit.
- Mimic the patients’ real life activities – If a patient is sitting or standing at their job all day then only teaching exercises for them to do flat on their back doesn’t recreate any true life scenarios. Try to add exercises that they can do at their desk like going from sitting to standing while keeping their core tight, sitting on an exercise ball, seated posture exercises, and explain desk ergonomics. If they tend to stand all day, use 1 or 2 foot balance exercises, standing posture work, proper bending and lifting techniques, and teach the patient proper gait mechanics.
- Help them remember – Patients often say they forget to do their exercises or just don’t have time. Teach them that even as little as 20-30 seconds of holding good posture or 5 reps of an exercises a couple times throughout the day can make a big impact. Here are some things patients can do to help them remember.
- Set a reminder on their phone to go off a couple times throughout the day reminding them to breathe or sit up straight.
- Find out what activity they do often and let that be a reminder to perform a certain activity. Ex: Every time you get a new email squeeze your glutes.
- Put sticky notes around their workstation or in the house that remind them to practice their exercises.
-Written by Niki Mooney, CTA, CXT as published in the CA Scene