After graduating in 2004, I decided that my passion is in the treatment of musculoskeletal and sport injuries, particularly in private practice. It’s a challenge to be able to get an athlete back to his sport, a worker back to his every day duties or a weekend warrior back to his hobby. Over the years, I have realized that Physiotherapy is an evolving profession and some of the treatment techniques I used 10 years ago are different than one I use today. Without further ado, here are my top 3 lessons I have learnt over the years.
1. Always listen to what the patient has to say.
As Physiotherapists, we are always thought of taking a subjective and then an objective examination. In the past, I used to rush during my subjective examination but experience has taught me that this examination is of utmost importance, as missing one point can have an effect on the treatment plan, diagnosis and prognosis. Do not be afraid to ask the patient questions, about occupation, hobbies etc. Go into detail. It will help your treatment plan.
2. Always assess, never assume
Let’s take an example here. A patient presents to you with knee pain after a 5 mile run. You assess ligamentous structures and meniscus and everything is fine. You assess knee strength and observe weakness in quadriceps and vastus medialis oblique (VMO). You assume that his hip muscles will be weak as he only run once every few months. Here is the problem. Sometimes, we like to assume. Look at the whole picture. Do not assume that his core is weak if you haven’t tested it.
At times, we tend to get stuck with the usual assessment or treatment techniques. We go to weekend courses and learn something “cool” so we tend to try it in the next few weeks. It’s all good, but never forget your basic skills.
3. Mentoring with other Physiotherapists after graduating, study more.
After I finished school, I started working privately. It wasn’t easy. I struggled. I needed to know more. In my free time, I decided to mentor with Physiotherapists who have done continuing education in the field. It was amazing the things I learnt. It took years of practice, hours of shadowing and weekend courses to continue to learn. We never know enough. We are constantly learning. Every patient is different, and no one patient is the same. After a few years, I decided to continue studying, where I completed a specialization in manual therapy. I advocate all physiotherapists to continue studying and specialize as it will help your career and ultimately your patients!
Written by: Carl Cachia BSc PT, MSc Rehab, MClSc (Manip), MCSP
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