Chuck Miller believes in a personal approach — every patient who walks into the Jet Physical Therapy clinic in Wellman is a little different, so everyone needs a little different treatment plan.
The first thing Miller does when meeting a new patient is get to know them and get some background about their life. Then, the conversation switches to goals.
“They may have specific goals in mind, like that they want to be able to get on the floor and play with their grandkids or do their laundry to go up and down their steps. Not everybody has the same goals, so that’s why I cater a treatment plan to get them to the point they want to be at.”
Miller sees the purpose of physical therapy as improving a patient’s quality of life. While some patients walk into the clinic with bigger goals in mind, others are intimidated by the thought of say, trying to walk a mile or joining an exercise class.
“It’s great to have nice, big, long-term goals, but sometimes we need to start at a goal that’s more immediately in reach,” Miller said. “Patients often see that initial success and it encourages them to keep going. They realize they can do things beyond what they initially thought. Sometimes that success can inspire them to keep working at those bigger goals even after they’re done with physical therapy.”
While many patients see physical therapy as something they have to do because their doctor wants them to do it, Miller said in a perfect world, more people would visit physical therapists on a more regular basis, like a yearly checkup. One reason is so they can have a realistic view of what their limitations are what they would like to improve.
“There’s value in physical therapy because it can show you areas you might need to pay a little more attention to, whether it’s balance or strength or range of motion or stiffness,” Miller said. “I think it’s important to be aware of your limitations so you can address them. It’s hard to work on something if you don’t know you should be working on it.”
Miller said that even patients who only see him for a short time walk away from the clinic with several tools on their toolbox to help them improve their quality of life, such as exercise or stretching routines.
Miller says that practicing as a physical therapist has helped him learn to think on his feet. Sometimes he needs to problem solve ways for a patient to get around a specific limitation — for instance, if a patient is having trouble standing to do their dishes, Miller can help recommend a stool or chair to get around the hardship.
Sometimes elderly patients can be hesitant to accept or engage in physical therapy, but Miller said he sees this as another opportunity to problem solve. Sometimes it just takes explaining something a different way or modifying exercises to fit more easily into a patients’ life.
“Sometimes I have to spend a little bit more time discussing things with patients who are hesitant,” Miller said. “Sometimes it just takes a conversation. I try to be open and honest and meet everyone where they want to be.”