Once a patient has started a course of physical therapy, they will be issued a home exercise program, or HEP for short. It is typically a simple list of exercises for you to perform on your own outside of your therapy sessions to help return to you to the pain free function you enjoyed before your injury. This home program is designed to address your particular condition. The exercises included may be designed to help you to move more freely, strengthen weak muscles, or relieve pain. For example, if you have a shoulder injury that is limiting your ability to raise your arm overhead, your HEP may include a series of stretches to help restore the lost motion.
It is important that patient’s perform the HEP as instructed to make continual gains in range of motion, strength, and function when they are not in the physical therapy clinic. Most patients are seen for only 2-3 sessions per week for 30-60 minutes per session. There are 168 hours in a week and that amounts to only 1.5-3 hours of therapy sessions. Research tells us that a minimum of 4 days of exercise per week is necessary to improve strength and endurance. The HEP gives us a means of meeting this required 4 days for gains to be made. To put it simply, we need you to “do your part.”
As patient progresses in physical therapy, so should the exercises and activities in the HEP. These HEPs are not meant to be overwhelming or inconvenient. They are simple exercises and can typically be performed in a few short minutes at your home or office. As the exercises progress, so does your knowledge and understanding of how to manage your condition on your own.
Once a patient has completed their course of physical therapy, they are often discharged with a HEP to maintain and continue to improve the range of motion and strength gains they have made in therapy. The goal is that you are now armed with the knowledge and techniques to manage your condition independently. We love what we do and treating patients is a passion, but part of that passion is seeing each and every patient get well enough not to need us anymore!