Understand the patients story and make sense of the objective assessment

Posted By: Dave O’Sullivan

There’s more than one way to assess a patient. You can have two different therapists with completely different assessment styles who both get good results. Why do you think this is the case?

In my experience of coaching other therapists, it’s not what you do that matters but the thought process behind it. It’s easy to assess a patient, but actually being able to make sense of the assessment findings and link it back to the patient’s story is more of an art than a science. The assessment process we teach on the Go To Therapist mentorship is very simple, but there’s a lot of higher level thinking in relation to what the findings actually mean.

This is critical to be successful in the first two steps of the Go To Therapist business growth plan. Unless the therapist has clarity on the problem and solution, they won’t be able to explain it well to the patient, which in turn leads to poor adherence, cancellations, drop offs, and the rest.

In today’s blog I’m going to share a useful tool that we use in the subjective assessment to help us make sense of the patient’s history. This is simply one part of a layered assessment process that we teach on our mentorship. While useful in isolation, when it’s combined with the rest of the assessment process and the objective assessment it’s a powerful tool, and it gives therapists a lot of confidence that they are on the right track in their treatments.

Business Growth Plan

The subjective timeline is nothing groundbreaking. The first time I saw it it made so much sense that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it myself. But despite being simple it’s a very powerful tool to help both the patient and the therapist have more clarity on the problem.

All it involves is plotting a graph of the patient’s previous stressors in chronological order up to their current problem. I’ve done a simple example in the video above. This visual representation of the stressors that the patient has been through makes it so much easier to explain the problem to the patient in a way they understand.

By showing the patient the relationship between old injuries and their current pain experience, it also opens them up to the idea that sharing this information might be useful to getting them back to where they want to be. It makes them more likely to share emotional stressors, sensitive injuries, and other history that they may have been reluctant to share otherwise.

For the therapist, it sets us up for success with the objective assessment. Rather than having to look at absolutely everything, we should have a couple of joints that we need to focus on when we’re looking at the patients’ movement. Anything we find should link back to the subjective history, and it should minimise the chance of ‘red herrings’ or assessment findings that don’t fit in with the patient’s story.

Give the video a watch and give this a go with your next new patient. It’s so easy to implement that there’s no excuse not to try it…

Let me know how you get on!

Dave O’Sullivan

Special Report Written By England Rugby League Physiotherapist Dave O’Sullivan…
“The 6 Step Checklist I Implemented From Pro Sport Into My Private Practice To Help You Keep Patients Adhered To The Treatment Plan So You Can Increase Your Results, Retention, Referrals & Reputation As The ‘Go-To’ Therapist"
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