Stand in a rehabilitation gym, listen to the communication between therapists and patients, and think about how to describe that communication. Does the communication mostly centre on what the therapist wants the patient to do for them? The following transcript comes from just one minute of a therapy session.
Push, very good, excellent, now yes, you have to do it, , that’s better, come on, again, Push and get it here, very good, and go back, excellent, You can do better, I want you to do…., I want you to keep pushing, yes, I want you to keep pushing, let’s get the leg stronger, you did a lot of work just now with Kevin, didn’t you, so let’s get it stronger, come on now, Let’s go, that’s much better, Did you keep pushing, you did, yes, I want you to keep pushing,
What would the patient’s impression of that therapy session be? That they should do their therapy to keep the physiotherapist happy? We might call this language ‘therapist centered’ language.
If we consider that the goals of most stroke survivors are – being able to stand, walk and use their arm better – why isn’t our language centered around the stroke survivor and their goals? The above example contains a lot of communication that could be omitted all together. If we convert some of the “therapist centered language’ into ‘patient centered’ language, we might hear the following instructions;