Eye On Physical Therapy
If you have been reading this column for any length of time you might have noticed that I am a big believer in patients taking responsibility for, and participating in the management of their own health. Today more than ever patients must use all the resources available to make the decisions.
There are many excellent and informative web sites on the internet dedicated to educating patients on different illness’ and diseases. If you don’t own a computer or have internet access, your local public library can be a great place to start. Almost every disease has a national association that disseminates information about that particular disease, treatments and protocols. Some of these include The National Osteoporosis Foundation (www.nof.org), The American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org) and The American Heart Association (www. Americanheart.org). Some web sites such as Web MD (www.webmd.com) have discussion forums, research trial outcomes and a search engine to search for any health topic. These web sites are great because you can view them from the comfort of your own home at your leisure. You can also print up information to take with you to your next doctor’s appointment.
In addition to web sites, local community health seminars are available on any number of topics. These seminars are listed in The Wave each week in the "What’s happening" section. The lecturers are specialists in their field and very often have question and answer periods after the seminar. This is a great way to get information about a particular topic as well as meet and get to know a new doctor who specializes in the field. Many times seminar attendees will make an appointment with the doctor because of the seminar.
Finally, there are many questions regarding alternative treatments including magnets, herbs, naturopaths, reflexology and homeopathic treatments. A great web site can be found at the URL www.quackwatch.org. I am not implying that these treatments are administered by "quacks", but unfortunately that is the name of the web site. This web site is operated by Stephen Barrett, M.D. It contains a wealth of information regarding alternative treatments, research studies that have been conducted in layman’s terms so that all can understand.
Your last resource is friends and family members. This seems to be the one that people rely on most. I have had many patients who have based decisions on whether to get surgery or take a certain medication on a friends report, because" they had the same thing". This is one of the most dangerous and most common mistakes people make. No two shoulder injures, back conditions or knee pains are exactly alike, yet people will follow a friend’s advice instead of their physicians.
You will get the most out of your next doctor’s visit if you are prepared with intelligent questions, current research and letting the doctor know what your goals are.