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A lot of folks miss the boat entirely in the fitness and rehab field when interacting with people. It doesn’t matter if it’s a client, an athlete, or a patient; human connection and interaction is the single most important aspect that cannot be overlooked.

Our new physical therapist / strength coach at Boston Physical Therapy & Wellness, Dr. Zak Gabor, is on today with a great guest article that expands on his thoughts about this topic.

I graduated Physical Therapy school last August (2015) and started work almost immediately at the same place I completed my last affiliation.

While it has been a relatively short time, I have come to learn single-hand, the most important factor when it comes to successful patient outcomes: how you interact with them reigns supreme.

While this has always been something that came naturally to me, it wasn’t necessarily my primary focus when establishing myself as a new clinician. Coming out of PT school it’s very easy to feel compelled to spew out all of the knowledge you have come to learn, and I was certainly guilty of that to a degree.

Constantly overly explaining things to patients, I did not realize the language I was using was actually doing more damage then good. Along with this, I was constantly asking mentors and colleagues “how do I get better?” and “what continuing-eds should I take first?”

What I didn’t realize was that I was missing the most important thing. However, I was lucky enough to have a conversation with a PT I look up to a lot, Christopher Johnson, of Zeren PT & Performance. I was fortunate enough to pick his brain for 30 minutes on the phone. My biggest takeaway from this conversation was the following information:

  1. Forget all of the techniques, courses, and fad treatments.
  2. Focus, instead, on your interactions with patients.

Wait, what?

You mean that you want me to stop being a smarty-pants and focus on keeping it simple? Quite simply, the best piece of advice I’d ever gotten.

It was then that I realized that all of the over-explaining I was doing was only harming patients (this is where pain science comes in). Pain science is real, and there is more and more evidence coming out to support it. Without diving into the nitty-gritty in this post just know (potential future guest article), your interaction with patient’s falls within pain science.

  • How do you greet them?
  • What type of language do you use in your evaluations?
  • What kind of attitude, body language, and sincerity are you conveying during treatment sessions?

Chris really helped to solidify this message to me.

You can possess all of these sexy techniques and knowledge, but ultimately, if you cannot connect and empower your patients, none of it matters. This is a hard pill to swallow for an eager PT who wants to convey their intelligence by overcomplicating things.

While continuing education is very important, as well as learning new techniques, I challenge new PT grads to take a step back and see the bigger picture. Drop all the fancy jargon and keep it real. Empower your patients, stray away from threatening words when discussing diagnoses, and bring the positivity.

I definitely am continuing my education, and learning new techniques, but my priority in this first year of growth was to focus on patient interaction.


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Dr. Zachary Gabor, PT, DPT, CSCS, USAW, is a 2015 graduate from Ithaca College where he earned his Doctorate of Physical Therapy. Prior to that, he earned his Bachelor of Clinical Health Science degree from Ithaca College in 2013. Zak is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA), and a Sports Performance Coach through USA Weightlifting (USAW).

Throughout his doctorate program, Zak served as a Teaching Assistant for several physical therapy courses including gross anatomy and musculoskeletal examination and evaluation. He also spent over three years providing personal strength training to clients and athletes.

Zak is passionate about teaching and educating, both of which are very important cornerstones to any patient’s plan of care. In addition, Zak’s clinical experience is rooted in sports-based orthopedic rehabilitation and physical therapy, with an emphasis on strength training and sports performance.

A firm believer in continuing education to better serve the patients, clients and athletes he works with, Zak is dedicated to constantly learning. His future post-gradation coursework will include: manual therapy courses, dry needling certifications, and sports certification specialist designation.

Website — www.bostonptwellness.com

Facebook — Zak Gabor

Instagram — @zak.gabor2

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