Benefits of Maintenance Appointments

For any reader out there that doesn’t know, I had the incredible opportunity to live in France for a year while playing professional volleyball. This experience taught me a million things, not only about myself, but also about the differences between U.S. and European health habits. While I could tell you about the wide discrepancy between the food, advertising, and air quality, the biggest thing I realized is that Americans are very “reactive” when it comes to health, meaning we wait until there’s a problem before we do something. Europeans seem much more proactive about keeping their bodies healthy with regular “check-ups” with their physiotherapist or chiropractor.

Now that I’ve been a physical therapist for almost 7 years, I find it interesting that the concept of “maintenance” appointments is still so uncommon in the U.S. I’ve come up with 3 major reasons as to why I think this is so. 

1.American Health Insurance does not support “proactive” PT / Chiro visits. Insurance companies are looking for a definitive health problem that can be “fixed” in a defined timeline. They have checklists to determine if a patient is “good enough,” and once they reach that point, coverage stops.

2. Physical Therapists and Chiropractors have abused the term “maintenance” and used it to justify seeing patients for weeks on end, doing the same treatments and exercises. This provides very limited value to the patient and leaves them feeling like “maintenance” visits aren’t worth their time. 

3. People think that they can only see PTs / chiropractors if they have a defined “injury.” I totally used to think this way, as it was how I was taught while in school and in clinical internships. Patient has problem → PT “fixes” problem → patient never has said problem again because PT’s treatment plan was “perfect.” Trust me, that is the ultimate goal and what I will strive for! But the reality is that issues can arise and linger, especially when we are pushing our bodies via exercise and active lifestyles. 

First step is to admit the problem, right? Well we’ve done that, so now let’s look at WHY regular check-ins with your clinician can be helpful…

1.Injury prevention: We can assess your body’s strengths and weaknesses, identify potential imbalances, and design a program to address these concerns. By following through with regular appointments, you can enhance your body’s resilience and help prevent more serious problems.

2. Manage chronic conditions: people with a history of major injuries, surgeries, or diseases can benefit significantly from regular sessions to manage symptoms, improve mobility and enhance overall functionality. We can tailor exercises and treatments to provide support in coping with challenges associated with chronic conditions. 

3. Post-Surgery Rehab: People often think of physical therapy for rehab right after surgery, but continued check-ins can remain helpful months down the road to ensure further improvements in strength, flexibility, and joint mobility.

4. Improved Functional Movement: Regular PT/Chiro appointments can be incredibly beneficial for people with physically demanding professions. Two examples that come to mind are hairdressers and mechanics, but even desk workers are placing strain on their bodies. Maintenance appointments can treat muscles and joints that are stressed with everyday activities to keep the individual functioning at their best. 

If you’re going to pick up one habit from the French, I encourage you to add maintenance appointments into your wellness routine. They’re a proactive and effective way to invest in your long-term health and help you lead an active and fulfilling life. If I got to pick a few more European habits? Eat fresh, local food and take a nice, long rest in the middle of the day. 🙂 

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