It is common among physical therapists to think of therapy episodes as having a conclusive end. Indeed, some jurisdictions even require a formal discharge to be compliant with the state’s practice act. Insurance companies also tend to force patients to end their care definitively. It seems that these realities have influenced physical therapists to avoid looking for the long-term health of the patient.
Of course, the physical therapy profession does not want to be guilty of cajoling our patients to come in more than necessary. But is discharging a patient with a bit of advice and a home exercise program truly ideal for your patient’s well-being?
There is some tentative evidence already that so-called “booster” sessions augment functional outcomes. But do we really need this evidence before we begin providing continued skilled treatment? Or do we really believe that a home exercise program and advise on self-efficacy will improve everyone’s ailments, assuming they apply these things? I submit that it is misguided, to our patients’ detriment, that we do not schedule them for occasional follow-ups to monitor, apply “tune-up” manual therapy, and redirect their self-help efforts.