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One of the biggest challenges that a physical therapist will confront in home health is educating the patient on the importance of being compliant with the exercise program that is prescribed.

Patients and the caregivers first have to understand the importance of why you have been assigned as a rehabilitation professional, to help in improving their independence and quality of life.

There are several tips that a physical therapist can use to help improve exercise compliance in the home.

Make Sure The Patient And Caregivers Have Input Into Their Rehabilitation Goals.

Most physical therapists will tell you that this is a given and that it should be done on every evaluation. However, that may not always be the case as I have seen in my 19 years of working in the field. To help anyone become more involved in their physical well-being, it is recommended that patient has a say in what they want to achieve and not so much in what we in physical therapy think they should achieve.

If someone is actively involved in their healthcare and quality of life, there is a better chance they may be more proactive in accomplishing the exercise program to begin with.

Keep The Exercises Short And Concise and Provide Copies Of The Exercises.

Many of the patients we see in the home health sector do not have a strong exercise background to begin with. Over loading someone with a dozen exercises on your first visit will do nothing but increase non-compliance.

Providing a copy of the exercise routine and starting the initial home visit with three or four exercises to be completed twice a day, can help with the gradual progression of exercises as the patient begins to improve both in strength, endurance, and pain relief if pain is a problem to begin with.

By having a picture copy of the home exercise program and a grid where each session can be marked off and recorded, will provide some accountability on the patients behalf to see that everyone is working together to get sufficient results.

Involve The Patient And Caregiver In Discussion After Each Treatment To Be Sure Goals Are Being Met.

After each treatment it is important to be sure some time is taken to sit down and discuss the progress or, lack of with both the patient and caregiver if available,to be sure that progress is on track with the time frame you have established. And if not, what can be done to help speed up the process or, is there a possibility that the goals were too aggressive to begin with?

Exercise compliance in the differing degrees will be determined in a large part by the commitment and discipline of the patient and family support. It will start with the patients attitude and their resolve to overcome what their disability may be and, if they are internally motivated to succeed.

Richard is a Physical Therapist Assistant and Certified Personal Trainer with the American Council on Exercise. He has been a PTA since 1995 working extensively in home health with orthopedic patients and deconditioned older adults.