"I’m Done With My Physical Therapy": Why Is PT At Home So Difficult?

Many people struggle to finish their physical therapy protocols. One study has found that around 14% of clients never return for follow-up sessions after their first appointment. From there, the drop-off rate in session completion jumps to as high as 70%, meaning that only 3 out of 10 patients complete their full recovery protocols.

This is particularly problematic in today’s environment due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Physical therapy visits are now more difficult due to sanitization concerns and the need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). As a result, many physical therapy patients and clinicians are relying far more on remote, home-based physical therapy.

At-home therapy is certainly convenient, but many people struggle to stay on track with their home therapy programs.

Many people feel little to no motivation to do their physical therapy protocols at home. Prescribed routines can feel painful, frustrating, or pointless, leading to the increase in program non-completion.


This is for a variety of different reasons:


Ambiguity and a lack of feedback

People go to a physical therapist because they're acknowledging that they need outside help to learn how to move better, improve function, and recover from injuries. If the average person were confident that they could do this independently, there would be little demand for professional PT help. Doing physical therapy exercise independently, at home, can easily create a feeling of uncertainty and ambiguity.

“Am I doing this right?”

“Should this be uncomfortable?”

“What if I make something worse?”

Without immediate feedback from a therapist, it’s highly difficult to feel confident in the exercises being performed and challenging to stay motivated when there is uncertainty that what exercise that's being performed is even helping, or worse, is detrimental. 



When a patient visits a physical therapy office and undergoes a series of exercises or treatments, a professional is with the patient, ensuring them that what they're doing is completed properly. They help to keep you accountable, and provide some structure to help you move forward.

When we’re doing things at home on our own time, physical therapy immediately gets lumped into the thousand other tasks that we have to do in our day. It can very easily be forgotten about or ignored in favor of the other demands on our attention. When we don’t do our at-home therapy exercises, nobody knows about it, and there is nobody to help us stay on track and accountable.


Progress tracking

Regular visits with a physical therapist provide valuable feedback on our progress. A skilled PT can quickly see that our movement is improving, that we’re balancing out side-to-side discrepancies, and that our range of motion is getting better.

If we’re doing rehab at home, we lose that feedback. This means that we’re never sure if what we’re doing is really helping, or if we’re just wasting our time. That makes it tough to stay motivated.

Road to Recovery written on desert road


Cipher Skin solves these issues

Cipher Skin’s technology integrates highly-accurate sensors into comfortable, compression-style apparel that captures detailed 3D motion, tracks workouts and progress, and allows a physical therapy professional to see highly-accurate measurement of movement, range-of-motion tests, and vitals.

By providing immediate feedback on detailed aspects of your movement during your physical therapy exercises, Cipher Skin can help you know with confidence that you’re doing your exercises safely and effectively.

Your physical therapist has constant access to this data, and can follow along with your session or view your stats at a later time. This means that they are also able to follow your progress and consistency on a daily basis and help you stay on track with your exercises.

If you don’t do your routine, your therapist can see that you’ve fallen off track and immediately follow up with you to find out what’s going on and help you stay consistent.

Cipher Skin also enables your therapist to remotely walk you through regular testing protocols for range of motion and movement quality so that you can continuously track your progress and see the results of your efforts on a regular basis.

These factors all combine to make it far easier to stick with your physical therapy routine, safely and effectively do your at-home exercises, recover faster and feel better.

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