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Being remote is a feature, not a bug

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways:
  • Physical therapists regularly get in their own way, shooting themselves in the foot and then blaming their patient
  • Being in front of a person for real time strength and conditioning feedback can seem attractive, but can be a disaster for most physical therapists
  • Being remote allows time between the inevitable failure or symptom experienced by the patient, and enables them to come up with a solution and learn how to manage that failure.

If there is one thing I’ve learned in the physical therapy space, it’s this:

Physical therapists love getting in their own way

In the physical therapy world, things are relatively simple:

  • you talk to your patient and find out what is going on
  • you befriend them reassure them that all is going to be ok
  • you give them things to do while waiting for nature to take place
  • you high five them once they improve under your watch

But it doesn’t really go down that way, does it?

People need to feel validated for their efforts, important to the universe, and like they have some sense of control, myself (and yourself) included.

But there is a barrier that comes out of this need to hold on to control when it comes to implementing a Remote Wellness plan. The remote aspect freaks physical therapists out. Not all physical therapists though, but the ones who are newer to strength and conditioning and unsure of how to “command the machine”, to borrow a automotive racing phrase.

The thought of relinquishing that control and shifting it to the patient is difficult, because you (the medical authority) were just in a position of essentially 100% control of the situation.

“I need to see them move in front of me, and give real time feedback”
“They might be doing the wrong thing if they are left to their own devices”

I’m here to tell you, they’re going to be ok. They always were going to be ok, with or without your help.

Practice owners like yourself might be concerned about “free ranging” your patients and letting them complete an exercise program remotely out of fear of them failing, or getting hurt.

There is an industry secret that you’ve been sheltered from that I’m going to share with you: all of your patients and clients are eventually going to injure themselves while exercising, no matter where they are in geographic relation to you.

It’s not your ability to keep them from getting hurt that should be your concern. It’s their ability to cope with, modify without you and continue with the program that determines at what rate they are ok.

If you are there in person to nurture and coddle them, then they will likely become hyperaware of what you’re pointing out and tip toe around the exercises you’re giving them.

If you are not there in the moment and allow them to make mistakes, see that they can handle it and that they are ok, they will learn to be without you.

Think of the distant nature of a Remote Wellness program as a feature, not a bug.

This is all to say nothing of the inevitable failure to scale your practice that comes with an in person wellness program.

So you choose:

  • fragile patients and a failure to scale your practice
  • robust patients and a significant ability to scale your practice

Which are you going with?