The Monday Memo
September 17, 2018 PITT DPT STUDENTS
In the course of my first two years in PT school there was one constant message that transcended our entire curriculum: the importance of patient education. Whether my classmates and I were practicing transfer skills, reviewing examination components, role-playing exercise instruction, planning hypothetical discharges, or simulating gait training, our professors never ceased to mention how imperative it is for us to properly teach and inform our patients through their duration of care.
The consistency to which patient education was harped on in school mirrors how frequently I attempt weave it into my own patients’ plans of care. Every patient requires a certain level of exercise instruction and correction, but as I reflect on my clinical experience thus far I am conscious of how often the education I was providing had nothing to do with the right way to squat or perform a clamshell. Instead, I recall moments discussing affordable gym memberships, community resources, pathology and pain, and even fighting for the value of PT when patients verbalized a lack of motivation. Every conversation had value; however, one patient I treated exemplifies how essential this aspect of PT can be.
My patient had recently received the diagnosis of Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) and expressed to me a lack of understanding of the disease and what it meant for his future function. We spent time at the conclusion of the session that day discussing what the disease was, which symptoms he currently had, and I pointed him towards online resources and organizations that are dedicated to supporting the community of people impacted by MSA. While the conversation was not easy due to the prognosis, it was clear that the exchange had an overall positive impact on the patient. He expressed his gratitude and how he could see that the therapists involved in his care genuinely cared about his current and future health.
This patient epitomizes why education plays a vital role in the rehabilitative process and why it should be used to compliment the physical interventions we provide on a daily basis.
-Caroline Talda, SPT