Introducing Home Exercise Programs to Parents as a School-Based PT

by Howard Gerber on June 22, 2017

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home physical therapy activitiesBoth physical and occupational therapists working in a school setting only have so much time with each student. That’s where home therapy exercises can help. A home therapy exercise program is just what it sounds like. It involves parents carrying out specific exercises or activities at home that reinforce what the child is working on with the therapist.

Even motivated students who work hard during therapy sessions can benefit from a home exercise program. Unfortunately, not all students who are given a home therapy program will follow through and stick with it.

Benefits of Home Exercise Programs

There are several benefits for both children and parents when they participate in a home therapy exercise program including:

Greater parental satisfaction: Parents who implement a home exercise program often report greater satisfaction with their child’s therapy. Participating in a home therapy exercise program keeps parents up to date on the progress their child is making.

Increased student motivation: Home exercise programs reinforce school-based therapy. It may help students meet their goals faster, which keeps kids motivated.

Sense of teamwork: Home programs help parents feel like they are working together with the therapy team to help their child reach their goals.

Barriers to Sticking with a Home Exercise Program

In some cases, it can be difficult for parents to carry out home exercise programs consistently. Although parents want to do what’s best for their kids, there may be barriers. Parents may be too busy with work, family responsibilities, and household chores to fit in home exercises with their child, or have limitations of their own.

In other instances, parents may not make home exercise a priority because they do not see the benefits. In other cases, even if they think home exercises may be beneficial, they may have a lack of understanding on what to do.

Increasing Compliance

Fortunately, as a school-based therapist, there are several things you can do to help parents and students follow through with home exercises and increase compliance.

  • Make it part of the daily routine: Parents who incorporate therapy exercises into their child’s daily routine tend to have better compliance that those who make home exercises a separate task. Therapists may want to consider providing parents with a checklist of therapeutic activities that can be implemented throughout the day rather than setting aside additional time for home therapy exercises.
  • Get the whole family involved: If possible, incorporate home exercises that involve the entire family.
  • Explain activities thoroughly: Provide parents with clear directions on what home therapy exercises to do. Explain the reason behind the exercises and how they are beneficial. It may be helpful to provide simple written instructions, so parents can refer to them when needed.
  • Keep home exercises brief: Parents are much more likely to stick when a home therapy program if the exercises you give them can be completed quickly. Remember, home therapy exercises don’t have to be complicated or take a long time to be effective. Consistency is what makes a difference.
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