Want to Know if Physiotherapy can Help? Research Shows One Visit is All it Takes

A recent study verified something healthcare professionals have long taken for granted. After an initial assessment, an experienced physiotherapist can predict outcomes with a fair amount of accuracy. They can accurately estimate if exercise therapy is likely to improve a person’s ability and how fast.

The recent study followed 112 physiotherapy patients being evaluated for back or neck pain. The patients in the study had experienced their pain for an average of three months and half had a history with their conditions. When the physiotherapists predicted improvement, patients were roughly four times more likely to improve compared to the overall group. Other models for predicting physiotherapy outcomes have used patient data such as duration of symptoms, recurrence, pain levels, age, level of disability, or psychological factors. Physiotherapist assessment proved a much strong predictor of outcomes than any of these variables. For pain improvement, the physiotherapist assessment was the only predictor to reach statistical significance.

The message is clear. The best way to know if physiotherapy will help your condition is to schedule one visit for an assessment and consultation. By the way, the patients in this study received an average of ten physiotherapy visits, and pain ratings improved an average of 71% by discharge, with more improvement likely through independent exercise.

Source: Cook C, Moore T, Learman K, et al. Can experienced physiotherapists identify which patients are likely to succeed with physical therapy treatment? Archives of Physiotherapy; 5(1): 1-9.

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