Why you’re not getting better

and what you can do about it - Its you not me

Why You're Not Getting Better and what you can do about it

Why You're Not Getting Better and what you can do about it

Have you ever wondered why you're not getting better after seeing a therapist, and what you can do about it?  Dr Brenden Brown, the Leading Podiatrist at A Step Ahead Foot and Ankle Care, Penrith, explains that it could be you, not the therapist.

It's Father's Day. I love my dad, and I'm sitting in the entertainment area of my childhood home after cooking my dad his Father's Day breakfast. My brothers are here with their children as well, and we are discussing my parents impending trip to Europe, but more concerning in the discussion is the Back Pain that has my Mum currently in a wheelchair.

Mum has been to see a therapist. She's been given exercises and a treatment plan that she needs to undertake. My dad says, "Oh well. I think from here it's all up to Peter." I look at him, and I ask, "Who is Peter." My dad replies, "Your Mum's therapist. It's up to him whether or not your Mum will get to Europe. Let's hope he can get her better in time."  Pardon?

My head twirled, my eyes roll, and I'm quite sure I probably became the colour of an orange. I reply with all the love I can muster,  "This has very little to do with Peter and a whole stack to do with Mum."

That's right; It's not Peter's responsibility to get my Mum better! Peter has developed a treatment plan, and the biggest participant in that plan is Mum. Peter can show her what to do, tell her when to do it, but in the end, who is the person that is responsible - MUM!

I have no idea who Peter is as I've never met the guy. Still, I know from experience that this is a common expectation of patients that somehow it is the practitioners' responsibility to get patients better. I've got to tell you that while Peter and I have our patients’ best interest in mind and as therapists work hard to help out our patients reach their goals. I think there is very little further from the truth than it's "up to us" to get patients better. Dad... Mum... listening?

If I were to make a list of the most common reason that I see for people not getting better, at least half would be the laid at the feet of the patient themselves. Yes, I know this is a bitter pill to swallow if you are a patient and reading this blog is not going to make me at all popular, but them's the breaks, so to speak.

So what is the on "The list":

  • Not following your treatment plan - broadly speaking
  • Not completing your exercise program as instructed
  • Not Completing exercises as often as required
  • Not wearing the footwear your practitioner suggests
  • Picking and choosing the best bits of your treatment plan
  • Holding your practitioner responsible for your success

Now, of course, other reasons can contribute to your lack of recovery and yes, at times they relate to therapy or perhaps the diagnosis. Yes, practitioners get it wrong but so do patients! As humans, we seem pretty programmed to point the finger at others than recognize that we may be a contributor to our problems.

If you find following your therapist's instructions difficult, let them know, SPEAK UP! Sometimes 13 different stretches in a day is too much. But equally, if they tell you that you need to do this to get better, you've two choices - 1. Get to it or 2. Get a second opinion. But that's it! Choosing not to follow the plan and then blame a therapist for your lack of progress is like not taking your medication the doctor prescribes and returning to them complaining that you're not getting any better.

Why you’re not getting better - Its not ME its YOU

To the therapist who is reading this: Stop being walked over! If your patient isn't following their plan and you know it or they are negotiating not completing vital parts of the program, fricken speak up! Tell them straight! You are in no way helping either of you by following that course. The patient doesn't improve, you look stupid and incapable, and that is a lose-lose for you all! That patient will see someone else and will bad mouth you to their friends, loved ones and the next therapist they see! I know because they see me!

Why You're Not Getting Better - Its not me its you

Why You're Not Getting Better - Its not me its you

Well, after my head stopped twirling like the cast of the Exorcist, I had to make sure my Mum had a clear understanding that Europe was not only physically thousands of kilometres away, but the same distance metaphorically. Unless she stuck to HER part of HER treatment plan, she was not going anywhere.

The result? My Mum is, as I write, jumping on and off buses in Europe enjoying her holiday!


Dr Brenden Brown, Podiatrist & Shendi Brown

Dr Brenden Brown, Podiatrist & Shendi Brown

Founder of A Step Ahead Foot + Ankle Care in Sydney, and former president of the Australasian Podiatry Council, Dr Brenden Brown (A.K.A Dr Foot) is a wealth of knowledge on how to take care of your feet, including how to find the best shoes.

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Shameless Plug or where to get real help!

Need help? Need another opinion? Just want to get this sorted? Great, we'd love to help you 😊 You can start by calling our wonderfully helpful team on 9673 2987. They are all parents and will be able to help answer questions and guide you in the right direction.

Another option is to use our call back service, pop your details in the very short form and we will call YOU back on a number and times that suits YOU best. 😊