All patients want to feel sure that they are in good hands and are receiving the best care possible. This goes for those being treated for everything from a cold to cancer. Physiotherapy patients especially want to feel confident in their therapists’ credentials and abilities. These individuals typically see their physiotherapists once a week at the very least. As soon as they start feeling better, physiotherapy patients often experience a huge sense of gratitude toward physiotherapists in general. At the same time, they may have many unanswered questions about physiotherapy.
If you could interview your physiotherapist, what questions would you ask him or her? We’re not sure what responses your physiotherapist would have, but Leah Dlot, lead physiotherapist at Elite Sports Injury, had some interesting answers for several interview questions. Read on to learn more about Leah, BMR-PT, MClSc (manip), FCAMPT, CAFCI, and her professional experiences, opinions, and advice.
Interview with Physiotherapist Leah Dlot
Q) How long have you been a physiotherapist? What was it that first drew you to the field of physiotherapy?
A) 10 years. Coming from a background of high-level gymnastics I saw my fair share of physiotherapists who helped me return to sport after injury. At a young age I found it so intriguing that a profession could allow people to heal at a faster rate and come back from injury even stronger than they were before the injury!
Q) What is your specialty? In what ways do you feel you are outstanding in your area of expertise?
A) This is a tough question because we aren’t really allowed to specialize in any certain aspect of the profession (from a legal aspect). I suppose I have to say I put a lot of work into educating myself in clinical decision making, joint manipulation and movement/strength-based rehabilitation (Using Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization, the Functional Movement Systems, and Hard Style Kettlebell training). I really think one of my strengths (or so I’ve been told) is the ability to communicate with my clients. Don’t get me wrong, having this skill is very important in our profession, but if we have the ability to educate, motivate, and build a bond with our clients, that is equally as important.
Q) What one thing do you wish the average person understood about physiotherapy?
A) That physiotherapists play an important role in the prevention of injury or re-injury. Unless someone sustained an accidental injury such as an acute ankle sprain or as a result of a motor vehicle accident, pain is not the first sign of injury. Months or years of poor movement strategies or poor technique while performing repetitive activities were the source, and when your body can’t take it anymore, it tells you by experiencing pain. Physiotherapists can help treat the symptoms while focusing on the cause.
Q) How vital is the role of the home program to patient success in a physiotherapy program? How do you motivate your patients to do their home programs?
A) The home exercise program is extremely important in patient success! In order to decrease pain and increase function we have to affect movement strategies, also known as motor control, strength, and flexibility. Any hands-on or modality treatment used by physiotherapists lends to a window of opportunity to allow the body to move better in a less guarded manner. The more clients perform their tailored exercises during that window of opportunity, the longer the window will last, and the less amount of appointments and time away from work, sport, or life they will have to sacrifice. I think that is a concept that is not always shared with clients, and once they understand that and feel the difference the home exercises make, they usually remain compliant. Education (as above) is essential in motivating our clients to be compliant with their home programs.
Q) What is the biggest hurdle most patients experience during a physiotherapy program? How do they typically overcome it?
A) I think the biggest struggle is staying patient and sticking with the program. Everyone likes a quick fix, especially when pain is involved, but often it’s not that simple. Even the “basic” acute injuries like sprains and strains can take 6-8 weeks of rehabilitation (that’s how long it takes the body to heal muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries). With more serious injuries, or chronic pain, we hope to make slow progressions in function and pain, but it is often a long process that can take months and sometimes years. My advice is to make short- term goals and celebrate those small milestones, and try to stay motivated during the process.
Q) In your opinion, what health condition often does not receive physiotherapy treatment yet desperately needs it?
A) While it is becoming more common, I think preventative rehabilitation is still a newer concept and not completely embraced by the public or healthcare system at this point in time.
Q) What three tips would you give someone struggling with chronic pain in any area of his or her body?
- Keep moving! Going for frequent walks, getting on a bike, or any other activity (whether it is for 30 minutes or broken up into 5-minute intervals) is very important. When we move, we increase our blood flow and circulation, and the body needs this blood flow to heal. Not to mention that staying active can positively affect our mood or outlook.
- Sleep! Getting adequate sleep is so important because that is the time that our body regenerates itself and therefore heals. I believe the current recommendation is 7-8 hours per night.
- Relaxation! Whether it is doing some deep breathing exercises, meditating, or going to a yoga class, finding time to “forcefully relax” is very important in decreasing the cycle of pain.
If you are not sure what will help and what will harm, my biggest recommendation is to see a physiotherapist! They will educate you, help with symptom management, and get you moving in a very helpful way!
There are so many valuable takeaways from this interview. Perhaps the most important of all is to reach out to a physiotherapist before you start feeling pain. If you live near Winnipeg, Elite Sports Injury could be the perfect physiotherapy clinic for you.
Do you have a specific question for Leah? If so, leave it in the “comments” section below.