Why You Might Do Physical Therapy and NOT Get Better

  • January 29, 2018

Why is it that a person might do Physical Therapy (PT) and not get better? There are many potential reasons for this (which I will outline below), but that does not mean the next round can’t or won’t be successful.

The follow is a list of the most common reasons PT may fail (the 1st time)(in no particular order).

  1. Most of treatment led by support staff. Too often a client will be evaluated by the lead PT the 1st session and then the majority of the rest of treatment is led by support staff. Data suggests treatment with the lead PT (without support staff) leads to best and fastest improvement
  2. Lack of communication/understanding between PT/client. Assumptions are bad. If clear communication between the PT and client is not there, success rarely follows. This is not to lay blame on anyone, but clear communication is necessary to select the best path to a positive outcome.
  3. Lack of client education. It is necessary for the PT to teach the client exactly what is necessary to address the problem. The more the client understands, the better they will be able to follow the plan. This is especially true regarding the home exercise program. The goal is to teach the client what is necessary to do to help carry-over between sessions. From there, success will be achieved faster and the client will better understand the program and feel empowered.
  4. Mutual decision making. This concept is permeating healthcare to varying degrees. It is important for PTs to consider patient values/objectives and attempt to weave them into the treatment plan. By doing this, clients feel empowered in their care and tend to respond better.
  5. PT is an art and a science. Everything done is not clear cut. There will be some trial and error along the path to success (as there is in most science). As a result when something does not work (treatment), change must be made to to work toward ultimate success. Was the PT present to recognize and then make the change? Was the change made? Was enough time given for change to happen?
  6. Expectations. Are/were they realistic (client or PT)? Was the issue put into proper context (by the PT)? Failure to meet expectations is something to consider. It is not uncommon for a positive “scientific” change to happen (measured in various ways), yet the client does not view change as positive because it was not the change they wanted or it has not improved far enough/fast enough. This goes back to communication again. By setting realistic expectations there is greater chance for success.


So…if you are a person who previously had Physical Therapy and did not achieve the success you wanted, was it because of any of the above issues? If is was, know this…help is available. It is possible for you to get back to doing all those things you have been avoiding for weeks, months or longer. Don’t wait any longer to get back to enjoying life again (waiting and hoping it will just get better likely won’t do).

If you have more questions, click HERE for some more information or call Andrew @ 717-440-6197

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Zang Physical Therapy ~ 836 Market St, Lemoyne PA 17043 ~ 717-440-6197 ~ andrew@zangpt.com ~