The Physical Therapist as a Role Model

The Physical Therapist as a Role Model – Ryan G., PT

Recently I watched the season premier of “The Biggest Loser” when my wife informed me that one of the contestants was a home health OT.  The path the OT had embarked upon brought to mind a question about therapists in general; are we good role models for our patients?  I try to keep on a regimen of running three times a week and hitting the gym another 3 times as well, but as we all know, therapists’ hours can be long and filled will documentation in our spare time.  This is no excuse, but it is easy to fall into a couple of days or weeks of laziness. 

I read the biography on the “Biggest Loser” of the therapist and it appears he fell into the rut that so many people fall into with excuse after excuse on why not to stay physically active.  Physical activity or a healthy lifestyle can often take a back seat to so many other priorities.  This may be okay for some professionals, but the problem arises when we rehab specialists begin telling our patients to begin exercising more, or to stick to a daily exercise regimen, or to loose weight in general.  Ethically speaking, how can we ask our patients to make a change for a healthy lifestyle when we ourselves do not do so?  The therapist on the show is taking the first step towards a new image of credibility for his patients. In fact, his story, whether he wins or loses, will give more credibility to the overweight patient whose lifestyle mimics his own before the show.

Taking up the cause and following in the therapist’s footsteps PT’s and OT’s alike can become better role models for their patients. Casting a judgmental eye on an overweight patient should never be done, especially if we, ourselves do not follow those instructions as well.