Life Is Like A Box Of Chocolates
Most of you guys would know that I am a massive fan of good old fashioned, pull your socks up, fine tuned communication with patients. I am certain that the better you communicate with your patients the better their outcomes will be. We have discussed the importance of great communication previously, its importance in improving your patient rapport, improving patient compliance or even improving your application of Mobilisation with Movement techniques. In this post I want to discuss a technique that many of us sports physiotherapists would use on a daily basis to improve our communication with patients; the mighty analogy.
Why An Analogy?
a·nal·o·gy/əˈnaləjē/: A comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy)
Simply put analogies are awesome at making things that are complex for people to understand seem simple. I think we as sports physiotherapists can become a little desensitised to the complexity of the wonderful human body and world of physiotherapy. When explaining diagnoses, treatment options etc with patients we are discussing some pretty heavy stuff. Whilst it is just another day in the salt mines for us, frequently for our athletes it is their finals series, season or even career hanging in the balance! This should emphasise the importance of clear, concise and simple communication.
Think about the last time you spoke to your mechanic/IT guy/Arborist… did everything they say make sense to you? When you did not understand, how did you feel? Intimidated? And that is only your car/computer/phycus… not your body or career!
Imagine if they had used a simple analogy. I love the moment when you perform a well-rehearsed analogy and the patient has that evident “Ohh, I get it now!” moment!
The Jam Donut Analogy
An example I frequently utilise (which I definitely did not make up) within my clinical practice is that of the “Jam Donut” as an analogy for the anatomy of the Intervertebral disc. Patients who are frequently catastrophising about a likely ‘disc’ injury can frequently be relieved by an improved understanding of their pathology through the use of this simple analogy. Coming from an Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (McKenzie) paradigm of thought I would suggest to the patient:
“Your disc is built a little bit like a jam donut. It has a soft jam centre and a firmer outer casing. It has been suggested that this jam centre can shift depending on the forces you put through your lower back during your day….”
This non-sense continues to apply to the concepts of a posterior derangement and helps explain in a simple fashion the rationale for curve reversal and repeated extension movements.
Share The Analogy Love
As I have suggested this is one of the analogies that I use to improve my communication with patients. I want this site to improve the clinical practice of everyone who reads it, so, if you have an analogy (no matter how simple, stupid, woeful, etc) I would ask you to take 2 minutes and share it with our community of sports physiotherapists. Please leave it in a comment below or on Facebook or Twitter. Even post anonymously if you like. Thank you in advance!!