Another Reason Why We Created Our Communications Course About Weight Management for Rehab Patients

It’s very important for physical therapists to know how to address the problem of obesity.  Being overweight or obese, has a negative impact on not only wellbeing, but it also affects the ability of the body to recover from musculoskeletal injuries.

Researchers Interviewed Patients and the Results were Troubling

How do patients with obesity feel about their interactions with physical therapists?  It’s an important question that clinical researchers had to ask.

According to the findings of a research paper published in 2015, some patients perceived negative weight judgements from elements of physiotherapy interactions and environments.

While some obese patients perceive some interactions with their therapists as negative, it was not quite clear how  physical therapists felt about patients that are overweight.

A 2016 Study Confirmed That Physical Therapists Need Help with How They View Obese Patients Needing Care

In a follow up study in 2016, the objectives were to evaluate the ways in which physical therapists think about overweight patients.

The authors gathered data from six different focus groups that were held in Queensland, Australia, and consisted of 6 focus groups of 4 to 6 physical therapists who talked about weight in the context of physical therapy. A wide range of physical therapy specialties were embodied by the total of twenty-seven participants.

The Results of This Study Demonstrate a Real Opportunity for PTs to Improve Their Knowledge About Obesity and Communications Skills

The study uncovered four ways that physical therapists think about the treatment of patients that are overweight:

1. Most of the physical therapists demonstrated some understanding that larger patients might feel discomfort in physical therapy interactions. Around one-third of participants had not considered how patients who are overweight might feel and had little or no idea that they might feel discomfort. 
2. The physical therapy participants felt that patients that are overweight are difficult to treat.
3. They felt that being weight has simple causes (poor diet and a lack of exercise).
4. They did understand that talking about the impact of being overweight is important when discussing treatment with obese patients.

The Conclusions of This Research Paper Suggest More Therapist Education is Needed

The findings suggested that the ways in which certain physical therapists conceptualize weight could potentially result in unfavorable encounters with patients who are overweight.

The results of this research suggests:

  • Physical therapists need to have a more nuanced understanding of how patients who are overweight might feel in a physical therapy setting.
  • The complexity of the causes of being weight, and the possible benefits and disadvantages of introducing weight-management discussions with patients needs to be more deeply explored.
  • Education should develop comprehensive understandings of working with patients of different sizes, including knowledge of weight stigma, in order to combat the issue.

Reinforcement of Our Motivation to Offer Our Con-Ed Course on About Weight Management

Dr. Mike Stare, PT and co-owner of ACE, had personal experience going from the condition of being overweight and out of shape to returning to an ideal weight and achieving peak fitness.  This allowed him to conservatively recover from a serious shoulder injury.  You can read more about his personal journey here.

ACE is on the Cutting-Edge Physical Therapy Continuing Education

Weight management is an issue that physical therapists need more understanding about.  We encourage clinicians that want to know more about how to approach overweight & obese patients to take our course so they can better address the needs of this growing population.  Click to visit our contact pager and connect with us.