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How to Set Recovery Goals after an Operation or Injury

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post surgery - young man with crutches and knee braceAt the start of a physiotherapy session, our therapists will discuss with their patient what their goals are.  This allows the client to think clearly and verbalise what they want to achieve, and it often throws up their frustrations.  As one of our patients reported, “’I haven’t been able to get back to netball after my knee injury, even though I have been running at the gym now for a few months, and my knee still feels weak when I twist!”

Are Your Goals Realistic?

It may be that the goals the client wishes to achieve are not realistic in terms of the extent of the injury.  In this instance, a clear and honest discussion between the therapist and the client needs to occur and an alternative set of goals agreed, so that there is no frustration and added anxiety caused by the client not achieving what they think they should be.

These goals should then be discussed in terms of the current healing stage.  It’s easy to try and reassure clients by aiming too quick and too fast, with high-level goals such as running and jumping activities. This can lead to unachieved goals, potentially increased symptoms of pain and swelling and increased worry as the client worries that they are not achieving anything.

Set Goals That Are Appropriate to You

We aim to set clear goals at each stage of the rehab process. All our therapists have specialist skills within their area and so can set realistic targets with respect to healing times and the individual in front of them. We aim to set short term (week by week) goals, and longer term goals so that the client is aware of where they are aiming for at all times.

Usually, when we are faced with a client who is disappointed in the time is it taking for them to recover, it is often due to being pushed too quickly without clear attention to the sport specific movements and activation patterns that need to be in place prior to return to cutting or jumping sports.

If you have not seen improvement or progress for a while get in touch today to discuss your current goals.

Osteoporosis or care of older - lady on gym ball

Post by Leanne Plenge, Physiotherapist and Bristol Manager.