Medicine as we know it is a surprisingly young field, and PT as we know it is younger still. What we know to be true about the human body has changed so drastically over our lifetimes that it is phenomenal. Plenty of members of my family were alive when the first vaccine was created! It’s been less than a century since we first started using antibiotics as we know them today! It was not long before that when we were praising the father of modern surgery for using sterile equipment to avoid infection. As a science goes medicine is still in its infancy, and we have a lot to learn, which means many things as we know them are going to change drastically for the better over our lifetimes.
So what does that have to do with physical therapy? As it turns out, a LOT. Things I learned as a standard of care in school have already been put on the back burner by researchers as they have found new and more effective ways to get people back on their feet faster. The mechanisms we learned to obey and the rules for diagnosis have continued to be refined, and we have even discovered that some diagnoses once commonly given by therapists and physicians have had to be completely reworked to fit our modern understanding of the human body.
What this means is that when you come in to therapy today it might be, and honestly probably should be, very different than it was even 5 or 10 years ago. I’ve heard many times great surprise from my patients when I do something brand new, or do not do something that was once a staple of every visit they had seen in the past. So what should you do, as a patient, when something like this comes up? What do you do when a doctor overturns your long standing diagnosis with new research, or when your practitioners completely change course on treatment?
My response is always: ask why. Yes, science advances and treatments should change with it, but if you feel uncomfortable or as if something you are seeing is out of place, it is okay to question it! We should be willing to explain ourselves, and we should certainly be well researched enough to explain these changes! If we are doing our research, you should be seeing the differences. Some exercises and modalities once familiar may disappear, maybe not because they did not work, but because something new has come along that works far better still. But your therapist should always be able to explain to you why!
So what has changed in your medical experience? What is new? What is better? What would you like to understand more about? Feel free to ask away, we’ll always be happy to answer!