steviegirl Asked March 2012

Is it possible that a physical therapist is too optimistic and basically lies?


My PD mother has the most upbeat optimistic PT on the planet. Every move my mother makes she oohs and aahs over. She tells my mother over and over like a mantra that my mom is going to get better and not let anyone tell her different. My mom is doing a PT program designed for PD but it has been scaled down to the bones to accomodate my mom's advanced PD (stage ), My mom is so tickled that she's finally going to 'get better' as per her PT. From my observation the PT has helped a bit with stiffness but mom's still an invalid My question is -- is it right to tell a patient that has an incurable progressive condition that they are going to 'get better'. I mean it's good that the PT has some optimism but to me it seems like there could be something in between Dr. Sunshine & Lollipops and Dr. House. Anyone else had similar experiences?

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cece Mar 2012
We have a journey to go through. We can only do the best we can. It's so great to have one person that cares about us too. Thanks for being there for your mom. Time goes by so fast.
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steviegirl Mar 2012
Thanks JeanneGibbs&Baumgark! I really like the PT personally. Although I have to admit when the PT said to me in front of my mom "Isn't she getting better?" I was taken aback. Of course I agreed and said yes. Sort of had to right? I just would take a different approach if I were a PT -- more like living for the moment as in "Wow, you did great today. I'm so proud" (That's what I do when I do the exercises with my mom which I will be doing since PT has ended because Medicare only pays so much) I would be more in the moment and not so much talking about the future esp. if the future was well -- bleak. But then I'm not a PT and never will be. I guess you're right that it can't hurt to be optimistic. It's just that my mom has a tendency to blame herself so I don't want her blaming herself like she did something wrong when all the king's horses and all the king's PT can't put her back together again.
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Baumgark Mar 2012
As jgibbs answered, medical professionals try to find the best in the situation. My grandma hates everyone but tried for the pt. Can you imagine their job, of you were not upbeat you would never make it. I knew my gma had plateaued, but she did try. Pull the pt aside and ask her what she honestly thinks. Good luck
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jeannegibbs Mar 2012
People in the medical professions have different attitudes toward "realism" and "hope". People needing medical care have different preferences for how straight up they want their prognosis. Somethings there is a good match, and sometimes the views are very compatible.

You mother is never going to get well. She has an incurable progressive condition. But she may get "better" in certain regards as she declines overall. It seems cruel to set up expectations that can't be met, but on the other hand if this optimism can be sustained indefinitely, what is the harm?

The PT's attitude would be perfect for my mother, whose life-long coping mechanism is denial. She would not want to hear that her condition will only get worse and it is hopeless to try to do anything (even though on one level she knows that is the truth.)

If you think the PT's approach is in some way harmful to your mother, then talk privately with the professional and share your concerns.
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