As the warmth of spring unfolds, it brings with it a renewal of energy and vitality. Spring symbolizes growth, rejuvenation and transformation.

Growing in my backyard, in the midst of pebbles, three beautiful red tulips have bloomed in the last week. I have often found myself looking at them in wonder over my morning coffee. Honestly, I consider this nothing short of a miracle considering the sight of our lawn secondary to constant shade from hundred-year-old trees, poor drainage, children, dogs and my overall lack of green thumb.

Grow where you are planted, right? Or where you find yourself to land, I assume, as I didn’t plant these beauties.

In a similar sense, with the warmth of spring, we are all reminded of the importance of providing the highest level of clinical care to those we serve, even when the answers aren’t completely clear in our go-to guides for research or evidence-based practice.

We have all been there. You all in the field see it every day.

We know how to care for an individual with new-onset CVA, we are taught about “typical” disease progression for many degenerative conditions, and the standard orthopedic post-operative plan… piece of cake!

These aren’t the folks we care for daily. 

Add onto all the above multiple complexities and comorbidities, prior neurological incidents, and considerations around discharge planning and health equity. Now more than ever, like the tulips holding strong, therapists must evolve in their approaches for practicing at the top of their license. 

In this season of renewal, let us explore how therapists can inspire their practice with evidence-based methodologies, person-centered care, and standardized testing, empowering patients towards their optimal outcomes.

Evidenced-based practice

At the heart of rehabilitation across all settings lies the commitment to evidence-based practice (EBP). Springtime offers a prime opportunity for therapists to reinvigorate their practice by integrating the latest evidence-based interventions. 

By staying abreast of cutting-edge research and updates from our specialty societies including AOTA, APTA and ASHA in addition to advancements in rehabilitation science, therapists can ensure that their interventions are not only effective but also tailored to the unique needs of everyone. From the latest modalities to innovative cognitive interventions, embracing evidence-based practice fosters a culture of excellence and continuous improvement.

Person-centered care

Person-centered care lies at the core of rehabilitation in SNFs, emphasizing the importance of recognizing each patient as a unique individual with distinct preferences, goals and aspirations. 

Just as spring indicates a new beginning, therapists can use this season as an opportunity to engage patients as active participants in their rehabilitation journey. Empowering patients to direct their care fosters a sense of autonomy, instilling them with the confidence to make informed decisions regarding their treatment options.

Therapists can incorporate person-centered approaches by actively soliciting patient input, preferences and goals. Whether it’s customizing exercise routines to align with a patient’s interests or incorporating meaningful activities into therapy sessions, placing the patient in control of their rehabilitation journey plants seeds of ownership and empowerment.

Standardized assessment

To really get back to our roots of care, let us all remember the use of consistent, standardized testing as a cornerstone of effective rehabilitation practice. Just as the changing seasons follow a predictable pattern, standardized tests provide therapists with a reliable framework for assessing patients’ functional abilities, tracking progress and informing treatment planning. 

By adhering to standardized testing protocols, therapists can ensure consistency and objectivity in their assessments, facilitating accurate diagnosis and personalized intervention strategies.

Springtime presents an opportune moment for therapists to revisit and refine their use of standardized testing tools, ensuring that they are aligned with the latest clinical guidelines and best practices. From standardized mobility assessments and tools to assess activities of daily living, leveraging consistent testing methodologies enables therapists to make data-driven decisions and optimize patient outcomes.

In closing, allow springtime to serve as a reminder of the boundless potential for growth and renewal, both for our patients and ourselves, growing ourselves and our patients, regardless of the challenges presented to us and yielding the best outcomes for those we serve daily. Renee Kinder, MS, CCC-SLP, RAC-CT, serves as the Executive Vice President of Clinical Services for Broad River Rehab. Additionally, she contributes her expertise as a member of the American Speech Language Hearing Association’s (ASHA) Healthcare and Economics Committee, the University of Kentucky College of Medicine community faculty, and an advisor to the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Current Procedural Terminology CPT® Editorial Panel, and a member of the AMA Digital Medicine Payment Advisory Group. For further inquiries, she can be contacted here.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.

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