3 Things You Can Instantly Do When Your Patient’s Progress Is Not Going To Plan

What do you usually do when things are not going as planned with a patient?

Get pi$$ed off with the patient for ‘not doing their exercises’?

Say ‘it’s all in their heads?’

Look at what you’re doing and see if you can change anything?

Well, truth be told, I’ve been guilty of all three of those responses above in the past.

Often patients/athletes can get frustrated and may even start to disbelieve in the process as they struggle to see how they can get better in this moment in time.

Well, below are three things you can do to help solve the above.

1. Focus On What Is Meaningful To The Person

In a situation like this it is important to find little wins for that person…

…it is more important for the person to experience small wins than it is for you to ‘get their glutes firing’ in a specific way on the bed.

You must concentrate on what is meaningful to them.

For example…

If I need a patient to generate torque at their hips and they don’t see any benefit or value from performing a glute bridge, I can change this to something meaningful to them. There are plenty of ways to generate torque at the hips that allow the person to achieve those small wins while you achieve what you want from your exercises. 

The key here is to get away from exercise strategy.

You are prescribing exercises that the patient is seeing no benefit from (at the moment) and this combined with other events in their life at this time can bring on emotional responses.

To combat this, take them away from the exercise and simply change the context. 

Give them an alternative that will help them get small wins that make a big impact on their day to day lives yet still acheive the same end goal.

2. Remind The Patient What Is Going Well For Them

It is very easy for a patient to fall into a negative mindset and focus on the things that are not going well, especially when there are emotions built up over the past week.

But in actual reality, over the space of a week and further questioning you may see that they have had more positives than negatives in most cases.

Some gentle questioning here as I show you below is a good start to help them see what has been good this week.

Remember, we are hard wired to err on the side of caution and focus on the negatives…

How can you combat this?

Remind the patient of the plan and where they are currently at in the plan. This should have taken place in the first session and continue to be referred to along the way. 

Usually, they will have progressed quite a bit since the initial assessment and the ‘journey’ helps give patient’s hope. More on this in another blog shortly.

One question I always ask my patients to drive them out of negative thinking is a simple question…

“What was good about this week?”

The key here is to pause and let them think, process and recall.

This can be a very simple yet powerful question and I like to have this question answered before we start taking action in this session.

3. Bring Energy, Belief and Enthusiasm

This is the most important.

You have to show up to these sessions with Energy, Belief and Enthusiasm.

Patients will be able to tell if you don’t have belief in yourself or in them.

You need belief in your own process but most importantly you need to believe in them.

They are looking to you for help and guidance and don’t mistake their emotional reactions for lack of gratitude.

Being energetic, enthusiastic and having belief in yourself will help reassure the patient if nothing else for the time being.



To wrap up; focus on whats meaningful to the patient and find ways to get what you need from your rehab plan to match the movements that are meaningful in their lives to ensure small wins daily for them; find the positives from the week just gone to help direct them into a positive mindset; and show up with energy, belief and enthusiasm.

Ensure the patient can find the positives from the week just gone to put things into perspective and also show up with energy, belief and enthusiasm every single time.


I cover all the different facets of this and more in my The Successful Discharge Blueprint. You can request this below and I’ll get it straight to you, and you can start learning more about the tips I use with patients, which I’ve used in professional sport and private practice consistently over the last nine years…


Thanks for your time,