September 5, 2023
Elevating Home Exercise Program Adherence in Physical Therapy: A Comprehensive Guide
The Shocking Reality of Non-Adherence in Physical Therapy
Recent research indicates that a mere 35% of physical therapy patients fully adhere to their prescribed home exercise programs. This alarmingly low number reveals that the majority of patients are not completing their home exercise programs (HEPs). The most common reasons for this lack of adherence include motivational issues, questions about self-efficacy, and perceived barriers to exercise. While patients are ultimately responsible for their own care, we as healthcare providers can and should do more to facilitate their full course of treatment.
The Outdated Methods Still in Use
The role of a physical therapist extends far beyond the walls of the clinic. Patients often view their physical therapy experience as a holistic journey, starting from the initial evaluation and continuing well past discharge. However, many PTs are still employing outdated methods for encouraging home exercise program adherence:
Create a patient’s exercise program.
Hand the patient a print-out of the exercise program.
Ask the patient during subsequent visits if they’ve completed the exercises, often receiving vague affirmations in return.
A New Paradigm: Remote Therapeutic Monitoring in Physical Therapy
Incorporating advancements in technology can be a game-changer in improving patient adherence. Companies like MovementRX are pioneering Remote Therapeutic Monitoring (RTM) to optimize home-based patient care. RTM allows for real-time tracking of patients’ adherence to home exercises, providing a more interactive and engaging experience. This not only boosts patient compliance but also enhances communication between patients and providers. MovementRX’s RTM software even allows for progress tracking and quick escalation back to the clinic when needed, offering a comprehensive solution for modern physical therapy practices.
Strategies for Success
Here are some updated strategies, incorporating the benefits of RTM, to help your patients adhere to their HEPs:
Connect Exercises to Functional Goals: Make it personal by linking the specific exercises to your patients’ motivations for undergoing therapy. This creates immediate buy-in.
Provide Structure with Technology: Utilize RTM software to help patients schedule their exercises, setting reminders to keep them on track.
Flexible Exercise Timing: Encourage patients to break up their exercise routine throughout the day. RTM can help monitor these smaller sessions, ensuring they add up to a full program.
Track Progress Digitally: Use RTM software to help patients track their progress, thereby improving their sense of control and accomplishment.
Goal Setting: Use the RTM platform to help patients set and track short-term, measurable, and attainable goals, thereby boosting their intrinsic motivation.
Be Available and Engaged: Lack of social support can be a major barrier. RTM software can facilitate after-hours check-ins, making it easier for you to provide the necessary emotional and informational support.
While every patient is unique and requires an individualized approach, these strategies offer a comprehensive starting point. By leveraging advancements like Remote Therapeutic Monitoring and focusing on the patient-provider relationship, we can significantly improve patient adherence to home exercise programs, and consequently, their overall therapy outcomes.
What strategies have you successfully implemented in your clinic to improve home exercise program adherence? Share your experiences and insights in the comments section below.
Watch this video from Dr. Andrew Gorecki as he discusses a study regarding the poor compliance patients have doing their HEP. https://youtu.be/Dvm419SVyTg
By Dr. Andrew Gorecki, DPT
Owner of Superior Physical Therapy and MovementRx- Remote Therapeutic Monitoring