Using Writing to Help Physical Therapy Patients

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The Oxbridge Clinic

The Oxbridge Clinic

The Oxbridge Clinic

Dr. Bird’s Fifth Period English Class

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Everyone faces a time in their life that they become injured and need medical attention; either if you are an athlete or have just faced an injury in your daily life. The two athletic trainers we interviewed, Laura Richards and Joe Klanecky, were very informed on their area of expertise: physical therapy.

The worst injury that trainer Mr. Klanecky had seen was that of a track jumper whose femur broke. Trainer Ms. Richards detailed that the recovery for a femur injury is a long and difficult one, as this injury decreases mobility. We also learned that Ms. Richards and Mr. Klanecky have observed that the most common injury is the lateral sprain or ankle sprain. It is also one of the most recurring injuries, but it usually depends on the sport athletes play. Both trainers agree that it the time it takes to rehab an injury increases the higher up on the body the injury is.

The patient’s attitude towards physical therapy depends on the injury and if he or she is meeting goals. One of the patients we talked to said that she had an event coming up that used lots of muscle and was physically demanding but she had a fear that she wasn’t going to be able to complete the whole course with her injured leg. This sense of tentativeness is common with injured athletes, and after what we’ve learned, the ease of writing one’s feelings about such an event is beneficial for the mental aspect of the recovery process.  The patient wanted her knee to get better so she could run again. When we asked the patient about how confident she was regarding recuperation, she stated that her confidence started out low but recently she is a seven out of ten. Then we asked her how positive she was about her goals, she said that on a scale from one to five, she felt about a five for optimism. We gave her a journal to write whatever she would like to write because writing can help people cope with their injuries.

The trainers have agreed with us, stating the use of writing can help document the goals of each patient, which allows for patients to recover more rapidly. Ms. Richards said, “If athletes document their goals through writing they are more accountable to uphold them, as well as it gives them motivation to keep a positive attitude during the rehab process.” The use of writing can help a patient be able to share what they are actually feeling without having to say it out loud.

We also learned that setting, and writing down, goals help patients keep an optimistic mindset towards their recovery. Some people are noncompliant to rehab because they don’t believe they need it or they don’t feel as if they have enough time in their schedule. Mr. Klanecky explained, “The younger population has a harder time mentally recovering from injuries because they’ve never had a serious injury and they have no limits, while the older population has a harder time physically recovering from injuries because they already have physical restrictions due to their age.” Even though the differences between these two age groups vary, writing can affect their rehab in a positive way.

Overall, physical therapists want to make the rehab process as quick and painless as possible. There are other alternatives for coping methods to rehab such as: puzzles, coloring, technology, music, team bonding, and talking with someone. However, studies show writing is the most effective method and is being adopted by many people to cope with injuries.

Regarding recovery and rehab, both trainers said it depends on the patient. One patient may be determined to finish their rehab and get back to their normal routine, while another may put off rehab and make their injury linger even longer than it should. Mr. Klanecky told us that writing is a way for patients to voice their thoughts, and it holds people accountable, leading them to take their rehab seriously.

 

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