Why a Recovery Roadmap Makes All the Difference to Patients With a Shoulder Condition

February 17, 2015 | Focus Surgery

After many years of clinical practice and working with patients through their recovery, it became really clear to me that patients want relief from three things when faced with a challenging shoulder issue.

They want to know:

How their condition will impact their life long term

What certainty can be provided around treatment options

What the likely duration, intensity and success of treatment will be.

This is totally understandable. If it was me with the shoulder injury, I’d want to know exactly the same things.

Actually, I often make the comment to my patients that nobody really thinks about their shoulder until it becomes problem, so it’s no surprise that people feel concerned and a little overwhelmed about recovery too. For many it can be anxiety provoking, making the situation with their shoulder worse, not better.

Recognising this is common to just about all my patients, I developed what I call the Recovery Roadmap.

I did this because when I reflected on my patient communication, I realised I might be just a little difficult to understand sometimes. Like many of my medical peers, I love to talk technical and without realising it, we expect our patients to be working from the same page. The truth is, a lot of times, they’re not. And not through any fault of their own. In many cases, it’s because we haven’t explained things in ways that make sense or builds confidence or provides comfort to the listener – the patient.

Needless to say, this realisation was a bit of a light bulb moment. I woke up to the fact that it was important to explain things in a way that was straightforward, while also balancing it with enough technical information to build understanding; an approach, which I believe contributes enormously to empowering the patient to taken an active role in their healing.

What’s the purpose of the shoulder Recovery Roadmap?

The primary purpose of the roadmap is to build understanding.

More than anything, I want my patients to feel they are informed and that we’re working partnership to achieve the healthiest recovery possible for them.

Not in any way prescriptive, the Recovery Roadmap is intended to provide that much needed certainty about what to expect. It helps to manage fears and concerns and most importantly, it empowers patients to be active in their own recovery.

What’s in the Recovery Roadmap?

Just like signposts along the way, the Recovery Roadmap gives patients useful pointers at each stage in recovery:

  • Starting out – where you make a decision, or you’re forced to make a decision, to do something about your shoulder.
  • Getting the picture – when we build the background understanding to how you arrived at this point, recognising that many conditions (and even injuries) are the result of long term ways of doing things.
  • Your next steps – when we decide the best way forward for you. Sometimes this might involve surgery, but in many cases, it doesn’t. At this stage we have an opportunity to reorient the direction of your recovery.

By working through this process together, I’ve found my patients’ enthusiasm for, and commitment to, being part of their recovery has grown. Ultimately, it impacts more than their shoulder’s recovery. More often than not, this enthusiasm plays out in other areas of life too.

And that’s very satisfying – for them and for me.

Do you have questions about my Recovery Roadmap process? Why not pick up the phone and book a time to talk with me about how we can get you and your shoulder on the road to recovery.