Home exercises are usually given to patients at their first physical therapy visit and updated throughout the course of care. They are provided to reinforce what is completed during each visit and to eventually support the transition to independent management of the condition. Throughout the course of treatment, these exercises are checked frequently by the therapist for proper form and progression.
What is important to note, however, is that home exercises require compliance from the patient away from physical therapy. While some patients may not be familiar with exercising at home, others have very busy lives and struggle to find even a few free minutes. Nevertheless, home exercises are the foundation of an overall successful physical therapy program.
There are numerous benefits for patients to regularly complete the home exercise program prescribed by their physical therapist, including:
You can achieve more at physical therapy sessions.
- Working on the foundational exercises at home, allows a greater opportunity to dive into more advanced therapeutic exercises, manual therapy techniques, etc., during a physical therapy session.
- Home exercises can improve a patient’s muscle memory, especially when it comes to new exercises.
You may be able to regain function sooner and relieve pain quicker.
- Patients that regularly perform their home exercises are likely able to achieve more during their duration of physical therapy treatment.
- Regular home exercise compliance can help stave off potential “setbacks” during the course of care.
A home exercise program is sometimes the beginning of a new active lifestyle.
- In my experience as a physical therapist, I have noticed patients that were seldom active prior to beginning physical therapy experience the first-hand benefits of exercise, which leaves them wanting to continue an active lifestyle after discharge. Additionally, after seeing how easy it is to incorporate exercises at home, some patients want to learn new exercises they can perform at home or a gym.
Home exercises continued after discharge may help avoid reoccurrence of the condition.
- After a successful round of physical therapy, a patient may end up returning months or years later with similar complaints. In these instances, the patient may have abandoned their home exercises. Maintaining compliance with a home exercise program can help keep the original problem at bay.
Home exercises can lead to permanent, positive habits.
- For example, an exercise that is performed to improve posture may eventually become second-nature for a patient. In turn, the patient will have improved posture from simply performing their home exercises.
Home exercises may feel uncomfortable, especially if the exercises are new. However, patients should feel confident that their therapist will ensure they are using proper form before sending them home with an exercise program. That said, it is important to keep in mind that the exercises should not be painful. If there are ever questions about the home exercise program, patients should not hesitate to talk to their physical therapist. He or she can tailor the exercises around each patient’s individual needs or concerns to ensure success.
As stated before, home exercises are the cornerstone of a successful physical therapy program. Home exercises can reduce the likelihood of setbacks in physical therapy and can sometimes be the beginning of a brand new active lifestyle. Ultimately, home exercises can help patients make the most of their time at physical therapy and beyond.