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Building Confidence to Motivate Patients to Improve

VNSNY physical therapist Richard B.When first meeting a patient, physical therapist Richard B. says he lets them know right away, “I’m here for you, 100 percent.” He explains the treatment plan to them in simple terms to build confidence, and asks questions that help him understand the patient’s mindset: Are they motivated to improve?  What are their goals?

“It comes down to treating my patients the way I’d want my parents to be treated.”

“Sometimes the limit of the recovery is as much a mental as a physical thing,” Richard notes. “You need to delve into where the resistance is coming from.”

Joseph*, one of Richard’s patients who is recovering from hip replacement, concurs: “Richard has been incredibly helpful,” he says. “He picked up on my anxiety and welcomed my questions and concerns.”

Richard knows that his patients are going through a painful, challenging time in their lives, and he strives to build a good relationship with each one by making their interactions as pleasant as possible so they’ll look forward to their next visit with him, instead of dreading it. Says Joseph, “Richard is exactly the right PT I needed at this most difficult time. I was motivated to work hard during and in between our sessions. Richard guided me through my exercises with support and persistence—he didn’t coddle me, nor did he push me beyond my limit.”

Richard’s bottom line: “It comes down to treating my patients the way I’d want my parents to be treated—with respect, honesty, clarity, humility, and humor. I really do love my job; I look forward to going to work each day. I hope that shines through to my patients, and helps them feel better about the care they’re receiving.”

* The patient’s name has been changed for privacy.