Let’s Stop Playing It Small Together

Alright, I have a confession to make.

I came to the realization a week or so ago while listening to a podcast that I’ve…well…I’ve been playing it small.

While I put out a blog post or so a week, teach some continuing education courses on first aid along with pain science and exercise, I’ve still been playing it small.

There are certain things I’m really comfortable with and other things that make me pull back and question myself, my abilities, and my thought processes. So rather than just face, those things head-on I shrink back.

This happens especially on social media.

I see some of the groups where people are asking questions, or making statements, and rather than throw my $0.02 in, I shrink, and it’s usually out of fear.

The fear I’ll get called out, fear I’m not smart enough, fear that my voice or my opinion doesn’t matter (well truly to some I know it doesn’t but that’s not the point here).

So, then a strange thing happened. I was sitting with my buddy Eric Purves telling him this as we started discussing doing a mastermind group. I looked at him and said f@#k it, I’m not playing it small, I’m putting this out there.

I opened the laptop and put it out on Facebook. To my surprise, the post got 83 reactions and 117 comments.

Also to my surprise was the response in the comments. From physio friends asking what they can do to help promote, lots of people wanting to attend, and of course a couple of negative ones. BUT, the positive far outweighed the negative.

As I pondered this I realized I’m not alone. It’s not just me that needs to stop playing it small…so does our profession, and here’s why.

Education

I will forever be a proponent of advancing our education and making it better.

As I talk to other colleagues in different parts of the world (and it happens here too) we sometimes shy away from sharing our opinions or challenging the opinions of other healthcare practitioners because our education was shorter, or not perceived to be as good a quality as theirs.

This was the way I felt for MANY years.

However, a few years ago I came to realize that if you talk to any of those other healthcare practitioners (if they’re worth their salt) they want their education to get an overhaul as well. If any of them are taking any quality continuing education courses, they soon come to realize that many of the things they were taught in college aren’t worth the textbook it was written in.

Now I’m sure there will be some who argue with me on this, but with those other professions, their education isn’t better, it’s just different. Yes, they get more recognition because they have a degree behind their name (and their associations probably lobby a lot harder) however, it’s no more evidence-based than ours (maybe even less in some cases).

In reality, we’re all fighting the same uphill battle, our entire healthcare system needs an overhaul when it comes to helping people in pain.

So if you’re trying to have a discussion with another manual therapist there’s nothing wrong with challenging their treatment narratives as long as you’re approaching it from an educated standpoint (and obviously done with some sort of decorum).

We can’t challenge and say ” your approach is wrong because I do ‘x’ treatment which works because I do it and I know it works!” However, if we can approach the topic with a statement like: “the newest research shows us that our understanding of ‘x’ isn’t what we thought it was and has since changed to …” will get us much farther into the discussion.

I realize this might be tough because there seems to be a hierarchy within our manual therapy world and for some reason, we are frequently seen as the bottom of this. But, I have to wonder, is this reality, or are we playing it small?

The reality is, our entire healthcare system needs an overhaul in education when it comes to helping people in pain, not just our education.

Time Is On Our Side…Yes, It Is!

This may be our greatest asset.

The more I come to understand the patient perspective on persistent pain (thanks to Keith Meldrum’s help) the more I realize just what a difference time with a patient makes.

I love this quote from Ken Leong from a Facebook thread, and glad I was able to use it with his permission.

Massage therapy is almost tailor-made for [the biopsychosocial] approach. The therapist has much more time than a MD to really get to know their patient or client: where they’re from, their culture, customs, what their family life is like, their history with athletics, sedentary actives, repetitive activities, their stresses, their sleep patterns, their nutrition, their living situations, who they live with and interact with daily and weekly, their commuting stress, their occasional (and therefore dangerous) heavier physical exertions, etc.
The patient or client also has time in treatment to reconnect with their mind and body, to figure out where the aches and pains came from, what are their self-perpetuating patterns are, how they can change them…
It’s like you’re tall and in front of the volleyball net, and someone sets you up for ‘the spike.

We’d be blind NOT to use all this biopsychosocial opportunity!

Ken G. Leong, RMT
If this quote doesn’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside for being a Massage Therapist, I don’t know what will.
Compared to every other manual therapist we have a massive opportunity to help patients simply because of the time we get to spend with them.
If we reel back to the above discussion around talking to other practitioners, how many of them spend the amount of time with their patients that we do? How many truly get to know their patients? How many understand what their patients are going through day to day?
While a few of them might, I’d say as a general rule (yes there are some outliers) they don’t get to in the same way we do.
This whole time thing isn’t just a matter of our interaction with the patient either. I’ve seen some discussions on different platforms where practitioners say things like: “I have a patient who wants a 60-minute treatment, but I only need 45min to get done what they need”.
While there’s nothing really wrong with this (as I hope the practitioner was trying to do effective treatment planning) but think about what that amount of time actually means to a patient.
This could be their time! This could be their break from the typical stresses of life. Maybe that hour is a break from being a parent, boss, caregiver, entrepreneur, or whatever other thing is causing stress in their life. That 60 minutes can make a massive difference in their weekly, or monthly (or however often you are seeing them) routine and life.
And this my friends puts us into a very valuable position in not only helping, but making a difference in our patient’s lives. 

Exercise & Movement

I know, I know, you don’t think this is in your scope. 

Well, in some places it is well within our scope and for others it’s questionable.

So I’d like to somewhat address where this is questionable.

From everything I’ve heard the argument is usually “it’s not in our scope to prescribe exercise, we have to refer out for that”. Every time I hear this I also notice that AROM (active range of motion) and PROM (passive range of motion) are still within scope. So, how is a patient actively moving not an exercise? If we are passively moving a part of the patient’s body while they’re on the table, how is this not exercise? If you can help a patient stretch on the table, how is this not an exercise?

We seem to think that recommending an exercise is always prescribing that you do a certain number of reps for a certain number of sets of ‘x’ movement (bench press, squat, deadlift, etc).

What if recommending exercise was simply recommending:

  • Go for a walk with a friend (one of the best things for low back pain).
  • Get on the floor and play with your kids.
  • Dig your hands into the garden.
  • Pick up your groceries.

Just get them to do something they enjoy!

Half of recommending an exercise for someone can be just giving them permission to do an activity. When they’re on your table if you can do AROM & PROM, then there’s no reason you can’t do isometric, concentric, and eccentric movements and this doesn’t require any fancy machinery or even a set of dumbells, you can simply just resist the movement while the patient performs them.

Doing this can be very effective in not only rehabbing an injury but they can also demonstrate self-efficacy, resiliency, capacity, and really isn’t that what we’re trying to do with any treatment? I hope so.

I think the bottom line here is that we have every opportunity (and probably more so than other healthcare professions) to make a massive difference to help people who are dealing with a painful experience. We need to use everything we have at our disposal to not only help our patients but to help push the profession forward. In no way am I saying everything is fine and we should stick with the status quo, we certainly need to continually push for better education to create evidence-based practice for all of us. So, I implore the profession to stop acting like me and playing it small. Let’s challenge the bad narratives regardless of who is using them and take a firm grip on the benefits we have as a profession to not only help our patients but help each other.

If you’re interested in learning more about these topics, we’ll be launching an online course about pain science and therapeutic movement soon and you can join the waitlist by clicking HERE.

 

 

A Simple Guide To Patient Centred Exercise

After ‘pain science’ and ‘biopsychosocial’ the latest buzz word on our horizon seems to be ‘patient-centered care’ or PCC for short.

Now for a buzzword, it is pretty poorly defined and we don’t really have a strict description, but I think PCC is really how we should be implementing the BioPsychoSocial (BPS) model and what the BPS model was really meant to be about rather than the more pain focused version we have today.

This blog aims to focus on how we might apply PCC in the context of an active approach to treatment but don’t be surprised if it meanders off course a bit.

Patient Or Person?

Most of the available literature in this area discusses “patient-centered care” but I much prefer “person” centered care as it turns the patient well ….into a person and a much more ‘real’ entity in a two-way relationship.

The term ‘patient’ has long been open to discussion and this is an interesting read on the subject and I picked out a couple of quotes.

“Do we need a new word for patients?”

Patient comes from the Latin “patiens,” from “patior,” to suffer or bear. The patient, in this language, is truly passive—bearing whatever suffering is necessary and tolerating patiently the interventions of the outside expert”

“An unequal relationship between the user of healthcare services and the provider”

These are interesting perspectives that highlight the potential perspective of the ‘patient’ as a passive recipient to be told what to do and without concern for them as an individual. After all tissues and pathologies really don’t care how they are treated so why the need to worry about it?

What Actually Is PCC?

Maybe by definition, PCC is tough to define for all? What is person-centered for one may not be for another, but there do appear to be some broad themes and ideas that can be discussed.

Patient (person) centered care has previously been defined as:

“willingness to become involved in the full range of difficulties patients bring to their doctors, and not just their biomedical problems” – Stewart 1995

“the physician tries to enter the patient’s world, to see the illness through the patient’s eyes” McWhinney 1989

Two-person medicine (rather than one person)” – Balint e al 1993

(Quotes in Mead et al 2000)

For me, a good start for PCC is not to see the therapist or technique or method or exercise as the star of the show. It’s about the PERSON that really needs our help. That does not mean fanfares, razzmatazz, and pedestals, it really means that we try to think about what THIS person in front of me needs, what is it like to walk a mile THEIR shoes?

Another very simple way to look at it is, how would YOU like to be treated?

Mead et al in “Patient-centredness: a conceptual framework and review of the empirical literature” defined 5 key aspects of a “patient-centredness”

  • The biopsychosocial perspective (the patient’s life)
  • The patient as a person
  • Shared power and responsibility
  • Therapeutic alliance
  • The doctor as a person (Personal qualities such as Humanness)

Wijma et al explored “Patient-centeredness in physiotherapy: What does it entail?”

They defined PCC as

“Patient centeredness in physiotherapy entails the characteristics of offering an individualized treatment, continuous communication (verbal and non-verbal), education during all aspects of treatment, working with patient-defined goals, a treatment in which the patient is supported and empowered, and a physiotherapist with patient-centered social skills, confidence, and knowledge”

What PCC Is Not

There are some criticisms of PCC that seem to centre around the idea of consumer-driven healthcare and doing ‘whatever someone wants you to do’. Maybe the idea of ‘shared decision making’, intrinsic to PCC, seems to open up this idea of consumer healthcare for some.

These discussions are often dominated by the type of treatment and the application of more passive modalities and we really need to guard against this reductionist perspective of PCC.

Rather than MAKING the decision based on someone’s preference, PCC instead really should be about people being involved in decisions, a key part of PCC, and this should reflect the best information around treatment that we have available and frank and honest conversations around the best course of action. Not simply “what treatment do you want”.

Makoul & Clayman in “An integrative model of shared decision making in medical encounters” discuss a number of steps involved with shared decision making

  • Define or explain the problem
  • Present options
  • Discuss the pros and cons (benefits/risks/costs)
  • Assess patients’ values or preferences
  • Discuss patient ability or self- efficacy
  • Provide doctor knowledge or recommendations
  • Check or clarify understanding
  • Make or explicitly defer the decision
  • Arrange follow-up

 

What Do People Really Want?

That leads us nicely into “what DO people want” and this does NOT seem to revolve around their favourite treatment type.

PCC is perhaps thinking about what healthcare can do for the end-user, the person rather than how do they fit into the broader healthcare world. What better way is there to do that than ask them : ).

The increase in qualitative research is fantastic and really helps us understand what people think, feel, and ultimately need.

This is a really interesting paper regarding a two-person perspective in back pain Listen to me, tell me’: a qualitative study of partnership in care for people with non-specific chronic low back pain

The authors here identified some key areas.

Partnership With Practitioner

“All participants expressed the need for mutual enquiry, problem-solving, negotiation and renegotiation between care-provider and care-seeker to establish mutual therapeutic goals “

‘Ask Me’

“All participants reported that engagement with their health care-provider improved if they were explicitly asked for their opinions and goals.”

‘Understand Me’

“Consideration of life circumstances and preferences was important to all participants in developing therapeutic partnerships and optimising exercise outcomes”

‘Listen To Me’

‘Explain it so I can understand’ – Valuing competent and empathetic listener

I know my own body   – Participants framed the ability to ‘know your own body’ as empowering

This sentence particularly resonated with me however

“Tension existed between patients’ wanting a genuine voice in the partnership and them wanting a care-provider to give explicit diagnosis and best management instruction

Does It Matter?

A question I often hear asked about person-centered care is does PCC actually improve ‘outcomes’? I suppose my response would be does the effect of PPC on outcomes actually matter and which outcomes are we discussing?

Although we know that contextual factors have an effect on outcomes we don’t know if PCC specifically improves the most common outcome measures, but, in my opinion it is the RIGHT way to treat other people regardless of if it changes pain, function, or whatever. Although we don’t really have much data currently, my biases say for many it would make a difference, if not to common outcome measure then to the person’s experience in healthcare (which might be an outcome measure in itself).

 

The Application Of PCC

Maybe we should NOT see a person-centered approach to activity/movement/exercise just about the type of exercise or the sets and reps. Instead, it’s about all those things AROUND the moving as well and I will focus mostly on these (you can retain your exercise bias : )

Starting With The End In Mind

Unless we define what recovery might look or feel like it is probably hard for anyone to know if they are actually getting there. Really the role of the therapist should be to see where someone wants to get to, where they are currently, and then help them bridge that gap.

The best place to start might be with the end in mind and this first and foremost really involves listening. Listening and understanding is, in my opinion, the real essence of PCC but many people don’t feel that this always happens in their HealthCare experiences.

This short excerpt is from the excellent From “Non‐encounters” to autonomic agency. Conceptions of patients with low back pain about their encounters in the health care system”  

Holopainen 2018

“Patients felt that they were not being heard. They felt that the encounters were expert-driven, and the HCP interrupted them and dismissed what they had to say, without listening to their wishes and opinions”

We also have to acknowledge that for some who have had pain for a long time this process of defining goals or recovery can be really tough. It’s often difficult to see outside of the pain and suffering to have a sense of what ‘life’ actually looks and feels like again.

“Patients identified the effects of pain on their lives. They reported that their circle of life had shrunk and they had given up doing things they used to enjoy” – Holopainen 2018

I try to highlight to people that they are not just moving for the sake of moving (although this can be a positive thing), we are moving to get further towards valued activities and goals that we have discussed and hopefully, this can tap into people’s intrinsic motivation.

A big problem, IMO, with goals, is that we can measure their success via their effects on more generic measures such as pain or function (certainly in research around physical therapies).

We have a wonderfully personal and specific thing, the goal, and we should actually measure the success of a goal by achieving……the goal! If that involves changes in pain then of course with a person-centered approach we have to involve pain in the goal. But we might have no changes in pain (our outcome measure) but reach a valued goal that has a huge effect on someone’s quality of life and may not always be captured by the more generic measures.

I do believe that the ‘WHY’ behind action has to be driven by the person. So much of what happens in therapy is driven by the biases of therapists about the best way to get people pain free or functioning better.

Maybe the ‘methods’ employed often fit better with the identity and values of the therapist rather than the patient?

Shared Decisions And Responsibilities

As we discussed earlier, PCC and shared decision making is not just doing what someone wants. We need to present the best available information and our professional opinion on the best course of action to properly inform decision making.

Autonomy has been shown to have an influence on exercise outcomes “Autonomy: A Missing Ingredient of a Successful Program?”. Perhaps some autonomy and choice might lead to better ‘bonding’ with exercise in rehab?

As there are a whole bunch of ways to exercise, move, and load it should be not to hard to present a number of options and allow people some choice on the best way forward. Equally, it is a therapist’s responsibility to give their opinion about the best course of action that they think will ‘fit’ the person based on the best data and a sprinkle of experience.

Laying out each other’s responsibilities in the process is an important step. I always say I am here to guide and help but you have to go and do it and believe in it for it to work. I believe we need accountability towards each other sometimes.

Planning

This for me really is true biopsychosocialism.

We are all people ‘embedded’ in the world with work, family, and social pressures. One of the best ways to implement a BPS perspective is to realize that any movement/exercise plan is not going to come at ‘no cost’ in terms of time, effort, and sacrificing something else.

People don’t just need something to do, they also need a plan to be able to do it. A destination is great but we also need a path to get there.

How many things do you never quite get around to doing because you don’t have a clear time, place, and structure to get it done?

When’s the best time to do some exercise? Before or after work. How much is OK? What should it feel like? Do they have the required information to facilitate doing it?

Another passage from From’Non‐encounters’ to autonomic agency” highlights this.

 “A lack of written instruction prevented them from doing prescribed exercises because they were unsure of what they were supposed to do”

Helping people to navigate their own individual social environments is also a beneficial way to help. We cannot often modify many ‘social’ things but we can help people understand and navigate them better. For example, how might someone access community support with getting more active? Are there free or low-cost resources that they can use? Are there support groups or family members or friends that might be able to help.

Acting as a guide rather than a healer can be really helpful for many!

Support & Motivation

Picking someone’s exercise form apart or highlighting some kind of movement dysfunction really is the opposite of PCC. It shows a complete disregard for how that might make someone else feel and how that might impact on their behaviours. But I suppose if you feel you are just dealing with a pathology then why should that matter?

We could say that view is quite the opposite of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.

Perhaps we can think about how we might lift someone up rather than pick them apart. Think about highlighting strengths and positives. We entirely underestimate the power of motivation and optimism in healthcare in my opinion. This is a fundamental part of the role of the coach or trainer in the world of fitness but has been lost in the translation of exercise to the world of medicine.

People even say this themselves!

“patients reported that they needed someone to push them, like a personal trainer” – Holopainen 2018

 

Conclusion

 

  • Person-centered care is defined by the person
  • PCC is not just giving people what they want
  • People are people not just patients (passive recipients)
  • Think about “walking a mile in someone else’s shoes”
  • Think more about shared decisions (within evidence base)
  • Start with the end in mind, tie into valued activities
  • Help people navigate their ‘world’
  • Build people up rather than knock them down

4 Instant Ways To Assess And Move For OA Of The Hip

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been discussing different ways we can help patients who are dealing with OA of the hip.

Here are some relatively simple assessments you can do, which will also be great as homecare exercises!

When looking at all of these movements/tests it is recommended that you demonstrate it once to the patient, then have them do a practice run before the actual test takes place.

Sit To Stand Test

You start this with just a chair placed with the back of it against a wall. The patient sits with feet shoulder width apart and arms crossed at the chest.

You then have them rise to a standing position, then return to seated position for as many times possible for a 30 second duration.

Doing this can help give us an idea of some activity limitations the person may have. 1

 

4 Square Step Test

The literature recommends using four canes spread out with the handles at 90°, but I didn’t have any canes, so I just used tape on the floor.

Start the person in square 1 (whichever one you dictate that is) then in a clockwise direction stepping forward into square 2, side stepping to square 3, reverse step to square 4, then side step back into square 1.

Once the person is back in square 1, you reverse the direction going counterclockwise, side step to square 4, forward step to square 3, side step to square 2, reverse step to square 1.

This is timed to see how the person can do as quickly as possible to give us an indication of how well a person can move in different directions.1

Step Test

This one is a great way to assess a persons balance.

The literature recommends a 15cm step, but I didn’t have one, so I’m just demonstrating with a platform we have at the clinic.

Have the person stand on the affected, or the test hip. With the opposite leg step up onto your elevated surface until the foot is flat on the step, then return it back down to the floor. The painful side is always the “stance” side and doesn’t move up onto the step.

See how many times the person can do this for 15 seconds.1

 

Timed Single Leg Stance

This is another one for assessing a persons balance.

Hands are placed on the hip. Testing side is the “stance” side, opposite leg is put into a flexion position so that hip is neutral.

Then time the person for a maximum of 30 seconds. The test stops if the hands come off the hips, they touch the stance leg with their hands, or the stance leg touches the non-stance leg.1

What I really like about all of these, is that while their intent is an assessment, each one of these could easily be a homecare exercise you recommend to anyone with hip issues. You can easily do any of these in your treatment room and it can give you a great indication of a patients progression or digression. As always don’t just give them this with no reasoning behind it, make it meaningful to the person, find out their goals and explain how these or any other exercise can help them attain that goal. Make it about them!

References

  1. Cibulka MT, Bloom NJ, Enseki KR, MacDonald CW, Woehrle J, McDonough CM. Hip pain and mobility deficits—hip osteoarthritis: revision 2017: clinical practice guidelines linked to the international classification of functioning, disability and health from the orthopaedic section of the American Physical Therapy Association. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. 2017 Jun;47(6):A1-37.

Proven Ways To Increase Strength, Endurance, And Flexibility Of The Hip

Last week we had a post all about helping patients with OA of the hip.

One of the big recommendations was doing exercises that would help with strength, endurance, and flexibility of the hip. 

Here’s a series of exercises I learned back in college (from a pretty great instructor) that I believe would help with all of those goals.

Making Movement More About The Person, Not The Exercise

So I was on Facebook the other day.

And I saw somebody trying to make the argument that this exercise with a Theraband should be retired from anybody’s rehab toolkit.

And their argument was that there’s far better exercises for a rotator cuff injury.

And I’m sure there are, and I’m sure that you could even use this in different planes and do different things in order to help a rotator cuff injury.

But what we have to understand is that it’s not necessarily about the exercise itself.

It’s about the person who’s standing in front of us and we have to make that exercise meaningful to them.

Because maybe their biggest goal is to just be able to put their groceries away pain free, or maybe it’s to pick their child up and if this becomes a meaningful exercise to them that helps build capacity, build resilience and makes it so that they can do those activities we just talked about, then this is just fine as an exercise.

 

 

How Changing Our Habits Can Change Our Practice

Change can be difficult. Like, REALLY difficult.

In fact, we’ve written posts on here a few times regarding different ways therapists are stuck (or refuse to change) the way they practice. Quite often because of not wanting to include research in their practice, or committing to the new narratives around pain science etc.

If we did change, it often feels like a daunting task where the things we have been doing for so long have to change, and in turn there is sometimes fear around how our patients would react when this change occurs.

In the past, I’ve often chalked this up to the methods we use, or techniques we love become part of our identity and thus we don’t want to change.

While I still believe this to be true, it can’t be the only reason.

While reading a book recently, it dawned on me there could be another reason, which most of us probably don’t even realize. Mainly because this occurs subconsciously, it happens routinely, is performed regularly, and most of the time just happens automatically.

What I’m referring to a simple word that most of us don’t realize we are doing with every patient who comes in to see us.

Habits!

Little Seeds Of Change

Quite often when teaching or discussing different concepts around manual therapy with other practitioners, inevitably the topic always comes up “how do I incorporate this in practice”?

I’d say this is especially true with Massage Therapists and discussing how to begin including movement and exercise into treatments (this is just my take on discussions I’ve had with therapists, not the general rule).

There is usually a concern where the patient comes in and just wants to get on the table and get their treatment going. Even to the point of looking at their watch in an attempt to make sure they get their full hour on the table.

This was also true as I started getting interested in pain science and while learning along the way had to change my narrative with patients. I was genuinely worried (also due to my lack of confidence) that patients would think I sounded like I was out to lunch and start seeing a different therapist.

Well, the reality is, when I started doing more of both, not one of my patients ever looked at me and refused to do a movement, or told me they thought I was out to lunch (they may have thought it but never said it to me), and they very well could have because I’m sure it sounded like I was vomiting all this new information at them.

However, there is a way to do this in a much better way than I did when I first started trying to incorporate these things into my practice.

When we are trying to create change with a patient it’s usually about planting little seeds of information and playing the long game. It’s not always about making huge, grand changes all in one session. It’s about incorporating small changes over a longer period.

Perhaps it’s making one small change in an activity of daily living until eventually several changes are made and your patient adapts to a new routine or exercise until it becomes a habit.

So, if this approach can and does work for our patients, what if we took the same approach with our practice?

Changing Our Habits

In his book “Atomic Habits” James Clear breaks down how to build good habits and break bad ones.

One of the things I found really interesting was a quote from the book talking about habit change, I couldn’t help but relate it to how so often our techniques become part of our identity in our practice:

“The real reason habits stick is that it becomes part of your identity, improvements are only temporary until they become part of who you are”

“When you have repeated a story to yourself for years, it is easy to slide into these mental grooves and accept them as a fact. In time, you begin to resist certain actions because “that’s not who I am”. There is internal pressure to maintain your self image and behave in a way that is consistent with your beliefs. You find whatever you can to avoid contradicting yourself”

Just about everything we do in our clinic is a habit without even realizing it.

The way we greet a patient when they come in, the way we sit in our clinic room with them when they first arrive, the way our hands make initial contact with them when they’re on our table…all habits. We’re probably more likely to call it a routine, but these are all habits we’ve created, which is also part of the reason you’re successful.

Your patients REALLY like this routine.

And the thing is, so do we! It’s comfortable and familiar, which makes change all that much harder.

However, if we truly want to grow in our practice, it’s a matter of us deciding we will change, not making the patient change (although this will happen gradually).

This can also be daunting because it can feel like we’ll get left behind (making it all that much easier to stay in our groove), which is overwhelming, I mean, it takes 17 years before research is actually implemented in most medical practices, so it’s not like we’re going to get left behind by attempting to change what we do in our practice.

In this book, James talks about how to create new habits by doing something called “habit stacking”. To do this you identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behaviour on top of the current one. As you begin to master the structure of doing this, you create larger change by incorporating more of these small changes until these new habits are formed.

Could we just start by asking one new question during our intake and do it with each patient one day, then the next, until it becomes part of our normal conversation with a patient? Once this becomes our new normal, we could include one graded exposure movement before each treatment? When this becomes part of the routine, start to incorporate movement into a treatment, then homecare, etc. Even if all we do is just change by a small fraction each day or week, this can have a profound change in our practice and our patients over the long term. As this adds up you can have some breakthrough moments that not only make you a better therapist but can enhance your career. And the best part is, while you gradually make this change, your patients will change with you without them realizing it. These changes will become an expected part of your treatment and hopefully, they won’t be checking their watch at the start of the treatment.

If you’re curious or want to know more about habit change and how it can help you and your patients, I highly recommend “Atomic Habits” which you can get HERE.