When I was began working as a physical therapist 17 years ago, I was young and full of energy to get every one of my patients back to their prior level of function. I would do things that were considered unconventional, not within the boundaries of the capabilities of the patients that I was treating, and was told on more than one occasion that I was giving people “false hope”.
This has bothered me since those words have passed over the lips of the people uttering them and although I may not promise that all of my patients will achieve all of their goals in the time frame that they have in their heads. I tell my patients with new and chronic neurological injuries that the only time that I have not seen progress of some kind in my patients is when they stop trying.
I will use the definition of hope from my Christian background, “Hope The theological virtue defined as the desire and search for a future good, difficult but not impossible to attain with God’s help.” I believe that if I can instill a sense of hope in someone they have more inner drive and will attain results beyond what they initially were told and what the text book describes as the level of function that they will achieve. I am not telling every health care provider that they have to tell their patients that they will achieve something, because we may not do that in good conscience or have anything to back up saying that they will. Likewise, I believe it is similar that you do not know if they will achieve something that is unlikely based on their injury or disease. Therefore, if we can live with hope and give hope to our patients by helping them achieving little goals or big goals, then is it wrong to instill this as practitioners? I leave you with another quote from someone who has aspired many…” Once you choose hope, anything’s possible. ~Christopher Reeve”
Dr. Phil Cadman, PT, DPT