How To Craft Comprehensive Physical Therapy Goals

data and consulting physical therapy Apr 01, 2024
How To Craft Comprehensive Physical Therapy Goals

Welcome to a comprehensive guide on physical therapy goal setting – a vital component in ensuring optimal patient care and success in rehabilitation. If you're looking for clear examples of physical therapy goals and the methodology behind crafting them, you're in the right place. In this blog post, we’ll be sharing various physical therapy goal examples, covering short-term, and long-term rehabilitation.

First, during your initial visit with a patient, a comprehensive evaluation is conducted to gather subjective and objective clinical findings. Following this, a treatment plan is formulated, accompanied by both short and long-term rehabilitation goals. Subsequent visits involve reassessing the patient's progress towards these goals, allowing for adjustments in the treatment plan to ensure continued progress.

In physical therapy, goals serve as the guiding light for patients, directing rehabilitation interventions toward specific outcomes. Effective goal setting not only enhances patient care but also contributes to greater satisfaction and improved recovery rates.

Types of Goals (Definitions and Examples)

1. Short Term Goals (STGs)

Short-term goals are immediate and achievable objectives that can be accomplished within three months. These are tailored to address immediate milestones crucial for patient progress. Here are some examples of short-term goals:

  • In four weeks, the patient will improve postural control with standing balance (eyes open and eyes closed) to avoid the risk of falls.
  • In two weeks, the patient will walk up the staircase of their house. 
  • In the next month, the patient will regain shoulder range of motion from 95 degrees of shoulder flexion and abduction to 145 degrees of range of motion in order to be able to wash her hair.  

2. Long Term Goals (LTGs)

On the other hand, long-term goals (LTGs) span over a six-month period, focusing on broader objectives aimed at achieving significant mobility milestones or participating in specific activities pain-free. Here are some examples:

  • The patient will be able to walk two miles on a flat sidewalk, with no assistive device, and with no pain or hip instability in three months.
  • In eight weeks, the patient will be able to lift carry-on luggage (and travel efficiently) with a complete shoulder range of motion and no pain.
  • The patient will compete in a half Ironman race (swim, bike, run) with complete right ankle mobility and strength, pain-free, in four months.

American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Standards for Documentation in Patient Management:

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has set forth standards for documentation in patient/client management. According to APTA, within the patient/client model, short-term and long-term physical therapy goals must adhere to certain criteria:

  1. Identification of the patient or caregiver being treated
  2. Description of the movement or activity that is limited 
  3. A connection of the movement/activity to a specific function
  4. Specific conditions in which the activity will be performed
  5. The established time frame for achieving the goal (short or long-term) 

Moreover, short-term and long-term goals often include:

  • The part of the body in question
  • The specific impairment of the area involved
  • The specific goal related to that impairment 
  • The functional activities being affected by the impairment 
  • The target performance of the goal-setting system
  • The rationale for establishing the set goal 

Efficient Goal Writing

In any setting and even more in the clinical one, practitioners must avoid vague goals and instead focus on writing specific, measurable objectives tailored to individual patient needs. This not only enhances communication but also saves time in the long run. 

Remember that patient goals are crafted to align with the individual's aspirations and needs throughout their treatment journey. Those goals can be the direction you need to align your and your patients’ efforts and know where the treatment plan is headed while also considering the expected time each improvement will take, this way you’ll have a comprehensive physical therapy care plan for those you help heal. 

Now, how do you measure your goals?

You, as a Physical Therapist, need to have your very own set of goals. Just like you track your patient's progress, you should also be tracking your practice's success and revenue to know if you are headed toward the vision you have for it. 

We can be your accountability partners in this journey, call us at 810.344.6860 or send us an email at [email protected] to know how we can help you.

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