Incorporating a New Technology for Patient Education

Incorporating a New Technology for Patient Education

Eric T. Wanner (Florida Atlantic University, USA) and Jennifer Lynne Bird (Florida Atlantic University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2237-9.ch030
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This chapter explains the design of a survey that provides a new technology for physical therapy clinicians to use while treating patients. The new survey uses both numerical subjective and written subjective questions; the questions dovetail knowledge from the fields of writing and medicine to provide a resource for patient education. Encouraging a patient to write how he or she feels throughout the physical therapy process can increase the clinician's awareness, allowing for the modification of treatment when needed to achieve elite results for the patient. Reading a patient's writing also helps the clinician become more aware of whether the patient has a positive or negative outlook throughout the recovery process. The patient's development and maintenance of a positive outlook becomes a goal of the clinician. From this survey, the authors learned patients with a higher positive outlook throughout treatment sessions demonstrated greater healing gains in existing objective physical therapy measures.
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Initial Discoveries

What if we told you that filling out a survey while writing down goals has the potential to help you heal faster in physical therapy? Would you do it? The authors of this chapter created a survey that uses writing to assist the healing process. The survey features both numerical subjective questions, where patients are asked to rate how they feel by circling a number, and written subjective questions, where patients are asked to respond to a prompt by providing a short written answer. The writing prompts are scored using a rubric similar to the rubrics used by writing teachers when evaluating students’ papers.

In designing our research and implementing our survey, we wanted to answer the question if there was a relationship between a patient’s positive outlook when writing down his or her feelings and the patient’s recovery process. As of this writing our research remains ongoing and we plan to study this topic further, but our initial study revealed that patients who used more positive language when responding to short answer writing prompts on the survey we designed showed higher objective improvements on existing physical therapy measurements such as the DASH (Disabilities of the Arm Shoulder Hand), LEFS (Lower Extremity Functional Scale), NDI (Neck Disability Index), and Modified Oswestry (for back pain). We hope that after more studies strengthening the validity and reliability of the survey, it will become a new technology medical practitioners can add to their tool kit of patient education resources.

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