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Remain positive: Win the recovery battle with the help of positive thoughts

Have you heard of or read Norman Vincent Peale's 'The Power of Positive Thinking' (1952). This self-improvement classic has inspired countless people over the years in a variety of fields. While Peale is often criticised for the religious overtones of 'Positive Thinking', there is no doubt that positive thoughts can influence daily living for the better.

Recovery from traumatic injury is one area where a positive attitude can make a big difference. Increasingly, physiotherapists are emphasising the mental and psychological aspects of their patients' approach to rehabilitation in making a full recovery.

Acute and chronic back pain is but one example of where positive thinking can make a difference. As recently as October 2008, the U.K.'s Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) focused on the role of positive thoughts in long-term pain treatment and management during its 'Back Care Awareness Week'. There are no magic bullets when it comes to the back, so it's important to follow an integrated approach to healing that emphasizes both our thoughts and actions.

Mental barriers to physical recovery often become a self-fulfilling prophecy. A patient may be stressed or fearful of attempting certain activities, motions and skills and thus needlessly prolong her recovery.

What does this mean for long suffering patients? Hopefully, a future without addictive painkillers, unnecessary surgeries, or additional health issues. This is where family, support groups, and a responsible physiotherapists can all play vital roles. They are well-positioned to keep spirits high and encourage us during rough times.

A positive mental attitude is a prerequisite for achieving personal and professional goals. Conversely, negative thoughts are a roadblock to success and are sure to prevent you from:

  • Getting to physiotherapy appointments on time and meeting performance goals.
  • Carrying through on home exercises recommended by your physiotherapists.
  • Maintaining good post-treatment lifestyle habits (e.g. better posture and breathing habits).

During rehabilitation, it's important to set manageable milestones and celebrate small wins as they occur. Do whatever it takes to remain hopeful, and be especially vigilant about avoiding negative people and pessimists. Keep body and mind working together.

Commencing physiotherapy treatment provides an excellent base for healing. However, staying positive and remaining hopeful throughout the recovery process is also very important. Regardless of your injury, regaining full use of an arm, leg or other body part is as much a mental exercise as it is brute physical effort.


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