WHY SHORT-TERM AND SPECIFIC IS BETTER THAN BIG PICTURE G oals vs . R esolutions
As a new year begins, many people make resolutions to lose weight, eat healthier, or rid themselves of bad habits. I don’t particularly make New Year’s resolutions. However, I am a proponent of goal setting. The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to set goals, because you feel refreshed. Many people like to set ambitious, lofty goals because they can yield big results. Personally, I prefer realistic, short-term goals throughout the year. Short-term goals are easier to track and complete, and you experience a little bit of satisfaction each time you reach one. With that in mind, I encourage you to do the same. If you want to ensure your success, I suggest writing down your goal. If your goal is not written down, it doesn’t exist. Vital Care Patients ENTER TO WIN Find the misspelled word in this newsletter and call (623) 544-0300 for your chance to win a $10 gift card! CALL 623-544-0300
“If your goal is not written down, it doesn’t exist.”
When it comes to patient wellness, goal setting is a little different. After an initial evaluation with a patient, I figure out what’s going on within their body and determine the appropriate course of treatment. After I explain to my patient what is wrong and what needs to happen to fix the issue, we sit down together to create functional goals for their treatment plan. Functional goals are realistic, measurable, attainable, and specific. A patient can’t just say, “I want to decrease pain.” That goal is too general. Instead, their goal should sound like, “I want to reduce pain in this specific area of my body, during a specific activity, in this certain amount of time.” For example, a good physical therapy goal would look like this: “Able to tolerate 20 minutes of walking without low back pain within 8 weeks,” or, “Able to perform sit-to-stand transfer from an armless chair without hip pain or difficulty within 4 weeks.” After our goals are set, we devise a treatment plan. For example, if a patient’s goal is to be able to get out of a chair with ease and stand without pain, we prescribe specific exercises to accomplish that goal. This includes exercises at the clinic as well as ones that can be performed at home.
If we see that a patient is not progressing toward attaining a goal, we reassess and change the plan of care as needed. Sometimes the patient just needs more time, and we adjust the goal accordingly. However, we’re pretty accurate at estimating the length of time treatment takes, so almost every patient reaches their goal within the anticipated time frame. We never let a patient set an unrealistic goal. We want the end result to be success, not disappointment. One of the most important aspects of attaining a physical therapy goal is following through with the at-home exercise program. If you don’t do your exercises at home, you won’t get better as quickly, or at all. We can’t fix everything in two one-hour, in-office sessions per week, so patients must assume some responsibility outside the clinic.
Good luck on your goals this year. Happy New Year! We will see you soon!
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