Waxing philosophical on the power of the mind can sometimes feel like wading through the deep end of a pool filled with tired clichés.
From the likes of famous innovators and social justice warriors all the way to pop-culture characters encouraging people to “use the Force,” the internet is littered with memorable comments and quotes meant to encourage people to appreciate the sheer power we all possess in our brains.
Yet, through all this well-meaning encouragement, what’s often neglected is something critical.
While we can all agree that the ways our minds perceive and react to the world around us are indeed powerful, the ability to control this process – or even identify when we’d actually benefit from such changes and controls – is quite difficult.
Such is a hurdle often faced by physical therapists across the country when attempting to treat a patient suffering from the complexities of chronic pain.
The fact is, some chronic pain sufferers may not present with identifiable musculoskeletal issues that can be treated with traditional physical therapy and movement alone. In these cases, it becomes more evident to physical therapists that these patients may benefit from interventions that include an element of psychological support, coping, empowerment, and behavior change strategies.
That’s why if a physical therapy clinic is going to stand out in your market as an effective treatment center for chronic pain sufferers, physical therapists should strongly consider making psychologically informed care a part of its treatment arsenal.
A New Direction- Psychologically Informed Physical Therapy
Also known as psychologically informed practice, psychologically informed care is an approach to chronic pain treatment that utilizes the biomedical principles around which a standard PT practice operates, in addition to some of the more cognitive-behavioral approaches developed for the treatment of mental illness.
Psychologically informed care was developed based on the fact that many psychological factors exist that can serve to trigger chronic pain, or even make it worse. If not addressed, these “yellow flags,” as they’re called, can negatively affect a patient’s treatment outcomes.
Such triggers may include anxieties, fears, beliefs, mood, pain levels, negative perceptions, preconceived notions, and so on.
It’s only when a person’s so-called “yellow flags” are identified that psychologically informed physical therapists can modify treatments in order to better counter these psychological factors … ultimately improving outcomes.
The ultimate goal, then is to not only treat symptoms in a traditional sense as a physical therapist, but to also prevent the potential for pain that can coincide with these mental and emotional factors, once identified.
Power of the Mind: The Right Place, The Right Time
As experts in the care of chronic pain, physical therapists are perfectly positioned to offer holistic approaches to treatments such as psychologically informed care.
Through closely-monitored, one-on-one care with a physical therapists, psychological “yellow flags” can be identified over time as pain manifests, and treatments can be quickly modified accordingly.
The shift in focus necessary to include routine consideration of psychological influences is the logical extension of an evidence-based pain care. You can read more in this paper: “Psychologically Informed Practice for the Management of Low Back Pain: Future Directions in Practice and Research,” published in the May 2011 edition of Physical Therapy Journal.
Psychologically informed practice has the opportunity to improve clinical and occupational outcomes through appropriate consideration of relevant psychosocial factors.
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Integrative Pain Science Institute
Using the power of the mind is a response to the need for psychologically informed care education, the Integrative Pain and Science Institute is offering training that allows physical therapists to feel confident in assessing psychological factors when treating chronic pain.
By learning to identify potential yellow flags in a patient, then altering their treatments accordingly, physical therapists and their patients will begin to see improved, more long-lasting outcomes that truly make a park of people’s lives.
Offering such well-rounded care and treatment can, of course, also set your clinic apart within your local market. Click here to reach out for more information about psychologically informed care and how this approach can improve your clinic.