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Why Comparable Signs? | Therapy Article World

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Why Comparable Signs?

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Posted by: Brittany on 03/04/2012
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  One of the most important aspects of patient care in physical therapy is the use of comparable signs. Comparable signs indicate to the therapist and the patient how that individual is progressing. They show whether the patientʼs condition is improving, staying consistent, or even regressing. With information like this available to the physical therapist, he/she can modify the program accordingly and specific to the individual patientʼs needs. This kind of adjustment works to yield the results that the patient and the therapist desire. The use of comparable signs ultimately confirms to the therapist that the chosen course of action is effective and will lead to a successful recovery.

   There are many ways to record and measure comparable signs. The type of comparable sign used is dependent upon the nature of the injury/pain and the area of the body being treated. For example, for a patient who is being treated for the shoulder, the therapist would assess in which position(s) the patient feels pain and to what degree the pain is felt. This position would be used as the comparable sign for this patient and would be checked at each therapy appointment. If the program is effective and the patient is compliant and consistent with his/her home exercise program, each time the comparable sign is checked, there should be a notable decrease in pain when the shoulder is put into the previously determined aggravating position. 

   Some of the positions that are known to cause pain or discomfortto an injured shoulder are raising the arms oforward in front of the body until they are overhead, called shoulder flexion, raising the arms up out to the side until overhead, called shoulder abduction, brigning the hand behind the back, simply called hand behind the back, and bringing the hand behind the head, called hand behind the head. Depending on the injury the patient may only be able to to these motions partiallyat the start of therapy. For instance, he/she may not be able to put the shoulder into full abduction due to extreme pain, impingement, or whatever the case may be. In these instances the degree to which he/she is able to abduct the arm will be measured, recorded, and that will also be used as a comparable sign. As therapy continues and the patient continues healing, he/she will be able to put the shoulder into full abductions with no pain or issue. The comparable signs used for the shoulder will be different thtn the ones used for neck, back or knee, but the technique for checking and recording them will be the same for all body parts.

   It is as important for the patient to be made aware of their progress through comparable signs as it is for the therapist to be aware of them. While the therapist will use the signs to modify, extend, or termintate the program, the patient will use them for a sense of personal success in this area. A patient's mental state and attitude about their unjury can and will affect how they heal and how successful physical therapy will be for them. For example, many times a patient's range of motion will improve before there is a decrease in pain, or he/she will have increased range of motion before feeling pain, but they will be feeling the same level of pain once they get to that point. In his mind he will be thinking that this motion STILL really hurts which will seem disappointing to him and he will be discouraged about therapy. This is why the therapist or assistant needs to be sure to tell the patient that on day one, or the last appointment, he was only able to abduct his arm 45% of full abduction before pain, and today he able to abduct 50% before pain. The patient is made aware of the full scope of his improvement and will therefore stay positive about therapy and continue to be compliant with his appointments and home exercise program which will continue to facilitate his healing.

   Comparable signs are a very important aspect of physical therapy for a few different reasons. In addition to giving the therapist a play-by-play look at patient healing it shows the therapist the success of the programbeing administered and whether it should continue, be modified, or whether the patient is ready to be discharged. They are also important in keeping patients positive and compliant with their therapy programs which allow for quick healing and a successful recovery.

 

 

 

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