While attending your weekly physical therapy session is the first step to your recovery that alone will not cure you. You are only at your physical therapy appointment for a short period of time compared to the amount of hours there are in a week. One of the biggest components of success in physical therapy is the home exercise program (HEP). An HEP is prescribed by the physical therapist and is geared towards your specific needs and goals. Depending on your condition, you may receive advice on when to use ice or heat, be given a series of stretching exercises, strengthening exercises, or posture corrective exercises.
You may have some movements that are limited or painful due to muscles not firing properly. In order for your muscles to begin responding appropriately, frequent and consistent practice is necessary. A physical therapist alone will not make you better without the effort from you the patient. The patients who do not perform their HEP’s often take longer to feel better. The patients who perform their HEP’s often come back to therapy with more relief, feeling stronger and more functional.
Physical therapists want you to be independent in the management of your conditions not only during their treatment but also after you have been discharged from physical therapy. Allowing yourself to manage your condition from the beginning will help you achieve long term benefits. By keeping up with your HEP after you are no longer attending physical therapy you will help prevent reoccurrence of your injury or condition.
Don’t forget to ask your PT what you can be doing at home to help improve your treatment!