Patient Testimonial: The Best Physiotherapy is a Partnership

By: Lindsay Davey, MScPT, MSc, CDT
September 10, 2016
Editors: Ryan Davey, PhD and Lindsay Davey, MScPT, MSc, CDT

Two people working together to rock climbThe best physiotherapy treatment is based on an unspoken partnership between patient and therapist. When a therapist embodies this clinical philosophy, treatment can be patient-empowering, generous, adaptable, collaborative, and preventative.

Without this partnership, even the most skillful physiotherapist can find themselves delivering formulaic care that can create patient dependence rather than empowerment, and narrow health ‘fixes’ rather than the achievement of overall better health for their patients.

The following patient testimonial for one of our company alumni Vai Underys, speaks directly to the partnership philosophy in physiotherapy, and how it can impact the patient in positive ways.

Please note that the College of Physiotherapy does not allow its members to promote themselves or their clinics with patient testimonials. This protects the public from being persuaded by potentially fake or misleading testimonials. Patients can also differ in their response to physiotherapy treatment, and so the positive experiences of one patient may not apply to any other patient. For these reasons you would not normally find a patient testimonial on our website. However, the following patient letter was independently sent to the Ontario Physiotherapy Association’s Past-President Stephen Patton on February 7, 2016, and published in the association’s Physiotherapy Today 2016 Summer issue. We reproduce the letter here with permission from Ms. Gallagher Ross, and do so because it offers a rare opportunity to view the partnership philosophy from the perspective of a patient. Your experience of physiotherapy treatment may differ.

Patient Letter

This is a letter of sincere appreciation for your profession and one highly gifted practitioner within it. That physiotherapist is Vaiva Underys from Pivot Sports Medicine Clinic in Bloor West Village in Toronto (Vaiva is no longer at Pivot and now works at Toronto Physiotherapy).

Vaiva Underys provided treatment for me over a one year period for severe mechanical neck problems. I was in chronic pain and found it to be depressing and hard to cope with. In the time we worked together, Ms. Underys assessed my situation, provided clear and helpful treatment plans as well as teaching me how to care for myself and prevent further deterioration in my ageing spine.

Ms. Underys was approachable, highly professional and very skilled in treatment and teaching.

As well, she offered a nurturing and positive approach to me as a person and patient who helped give me hope and a more positive attitude. This is all within her scope of practice I imagine. One of her amazing abilities is to modify in a gentle and insightful way, every exercise a patient has trouble with doing.

For example, I was using a roller but couldn’t really do any neck turning. Ms. Underys found a simple way for me to do it and demonstrated that modification. Over and over she did this until I improved. Her suggestions are practical and do-able. She listens so carefully and then expertly modifies treatments and options creatively for them.

She also treated my daughter after high risk neuro-surgery and supported her back to almost total health.

Ms. Underys is also a very effective and proactive primary health care provider. She respects other members of team, suggests other modes of treatment ie for me, she suggested using a RMT to help with soft muscle tissue problems associated with my neck and also she suggested I see my family doctor for a definitive diagnosis as that became appropriate.

She employed the same cooperative strategies with my daughter, giving information regarding treatment plans to a doctor from Germany who was my daughter’s surgeon. All this with our agreement of course.

I am no longer in chronic pain and am so happy. Most importantly I achieved a wonderful partnership in my health with Ms. Underys. I am doing Tai Chi and fitness mostly because she taught me so well about the role of exercise in helping and preventing further problems. I can check back with her if I want to see if I am doing exercises properly and or need a positive dose of optimism.

I want to see her recognized if that is possible. I want it known that many other patients at Pivot agree with me. She has also treated other staff from there and they sing her praises as well.

Ms. Underys is an intuitive and rare primary health care provider who actually walks all the talk about prevention and person centered care. She is a practitioner who operates from solid experience but who is very able to adapt and accommodate to each individual she treats.

I would like to know if you have any formal recognition programs for excellent professionals in your field and if I can nominate Ms. Underys for any award or recognition. Patients, consumer views must matter somehow. Please advise as to what I can do.

Many thanks,

Kathleen Gallagher Ross

The best physiotherapy care you can receive arises from an unspoken partnership between patient and therapist. Our thanks to Ms. Gallagher Ross for intuitively recognizing this and for sharing her experiences. Please keep in mind that this patient testimonial describes the experiences of one patient, and that your experience of physiotherapy may differ greatly.

For ideas about selecting your own physiotherapist, please check out our article on finding the best physiotherapy for you.

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