February 2019 Issue
In what is an overused phrase, we often say "it takes a village" to do any number of things. But, like most clichés, there's a reason it exists—because there is some grain of truth or wisdom in it that resonates within us. And so, too, when it comes to positive patient outcomes, it takes that proverbial village of healthcare professionals to meet those goals. In the O&P profession, this is evidenced in working with the larger rehabilitation team, particularly physical and occupational therapists.
This issue of The O&P EDGE focuses on working with therapists to provide optimal patient care, and how to react to the emotional concerns of patients while managing your own.
In "Partnering With Therapists: Improving Patient Access and Outcomes Through Collaboration," O&P providers and physical and occupational therapists share their experiences and tips for successful collaboration providing care for O&P patients. In addition to good communication between professionals, they share strategies about how to work with third-party payer limitations on therapy visits to maximize patient outcomes.
"Therapeutic Gait Training: What Prosthetists Need to Know" outlines some of the central concepts of therapeutic gait training that are being used to develop a clinical practice guideline on the use of physical therapy following lower-limb amputation. The evidence to support the modes of therapeutic gait training presented in this article reinforces the idea that getting patients mobile following lower-limb amputations goes beyond teaching them to don and doff their prostheses and limited training between the parallel bars. Coordination between the O&P provider and a therapist to ensure that the patient receives hands-on gait training with performance-based feedback helps to maximize the impact of the prosthetic intervention.
While clinical skills are essential to quality patient care, the way in which care is delivered—the intangible bedside manner—can often have a significant impact on the patient's experience. Thus, there is a push in healthcare education to teach the application of empathy to clinicians. "Walking a Mile—Carefully: Empathy in Clinical Encounters" explores the complexity of this seemingly simple concept. In this article, we are confronted with the idea that empathy can take different forms and that it is necessary to develop the skills to differentiate between mirroring and understanding another's feelings. The first can make the practitioner less able to provide confident, objective care, while the latter helps the practitioner provide compassionate and effective care, because he or she seeks to recognize the patient's emotional state without absorbing those emotions.
Reaching the goal of rehabilitative care requires a team, a village, each member working within his or her specialty but also collaboratively toward a common outcome. I hope these articles provide new insights into how O&P providers and therapists can work together, and how managing the emotional dynamic in clinical practice can improve patient care.