Tracking Your Recovery: The Importance of Measuring Progress in  Physical Therapy

Tracking Your Recovery: The Importance of Measuring Progress in Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a critical component in the recovery process from injuries, surgeries, and chronic conditions. It involves a range of treatments designed to improve mobility, relieve pain, and restore physical function. However, the success of physical therapy heavily relies on effectively tracking and measuring progress. This article explores the critical role of progress measurement in physical therapy.

Understanding Patient and Therapist Perspectives

Research conducted at a Canadian rehabilitation facility involved patient interviews, therapist interviews, and observations of physical therapy sessions. This study explored patient and therapist perspectives on physical therapy outcome measures used in a post-stroke population. The study revealed two key themes: tracking progress and partnership. Patients valued objective results of outcome measures and felt encouraged by measurable changes. This finding underscores the importance of tracking progress not only for clinical assessment but also for boosting patient morale and engagement (Kwok et al., 2022).

Advancing Measurement in Locomotor Rehabilitation

Research by Bowden et al. (2012) discussed the advancement of outcome measurement in locomotor rehabilitation. They emphasized that current clinical measures often fail to distinguish between neuromotor recovery and compensation for impaired body functions. The study suggested using portable technology to assess walking in a free-living environment, allowing for a more accurate assessment of rehabilitation outcomes. This approach enables observing behavioral changes and assessing an individual's ability to adapt and incorporate new skills into real-world behaviors (Bowden et al., 2012).

Methods of Measuring Progress in Physical Therapy

1. Standardized Outcome Measures

Standardized outcome measures are essential tools in physical therapy. They provide reliable and valid assessments of a patient's functional status, pain levels, and overall well-being. For instance, using the Trunk Impairment Scale-modified Norwegian version (TISmodNV) and activity monitoring in stroke rehabilitation offers valuable insights into patient progress (Sivertsen et al., 2022).

2. Patient-Reported Outcome Measures

Patient-reported outcome measures are increasingly recognized for their role in capturing the patient's perspective on functional recovery. These measures can include assessments of pain, function, and quality of life. They are integral in understanding the impact of physical therapy from the patient's viewpoint.

The Role of Standard Measures in Allied Health

Raad et al. (2022) conducted a study to describe and compare the use of standard measures by allied health professionals. The research highlighted that psychosocial factors often influence functional outcomes, which affect a client's capacity to engage in care. The study found that while physical function, activities of daily living, and vital signs were commonly assessed, there was less frequent utilization of psychological and social measures. This suggests a need for a more comprehensive assessment strategy that includes both functional and psychosocial measures.

Goal Attainment in Cognitive-Behavioral-Based Physical Therapy

Another study examined the association between goal attainment and patient-reported outcomes in a cognitive-behavioral-based physical therapy (CBPT) intervention after spine surgery. The study found that participants who met their goals as expected showed more remarkable physical function improvement at 6 and 12 months. This highlights the significance of setting and achieving patient-centered goals in physical therapy, demonstrating a clear link between goal attainment and long-term recovery outcomes (Coronado et al., 2022).

Challenges in Measuring Progress

1. Variability in Patient Response

Patients respond differently to physical therapy interventions, making it challenging to standardize progress measurement. This variability necessitates a flexible approach to tracking progress tailored to individual patient needs.

2. Integration of Technology

The integration of technology, such as wearable devices and telerehabilitation tools, offers new avenues for measuring progress. However, it also presents challenges in terms of accessibility, patient compliance, and data interpretation.

3. Balancing Quantitative and Qualitative Measures

While quantitative measures provide objective data, qualitative measures capture the patient's subjective experience. Balancing these two types of measures is crucial for a holistic understanding of progress.


In conclusion, measuring progress in physical therapy is vital for optimizing patient outcomes, enhancing patient engagement, and guiding clinical decision-making. Despite the challenges, the integration of standardized measures, patient-reported outcomes, and technological advancements holds great promise for the future of physical therapy.

One such technological advancement is the use of smart devices like Squegg, a digital hand grip strengthener. Tools like Squegg represent a significant step forward in the realm of physical therapy. They offer precise, real-time tracking of grip strength, a key indicator of progress in many rehabilitation scenarios. The interactive nature of Squegg, coupled with its user-friendly interface, can significantly boost patient engagement and motivation. Patients can visually track their improvements, and therapists can use this data to make more informed decisions about treatment plans.

Moreover, the integration of such technology into physical therapy practices aligns with the growing trend of digital health solutions. These solutions not only enhance the quality of care but also make it more accessible and personalized. As we continue to embrace these technological advancements, the potential for improved patient outcomes and more efficient therapy processes becomes increasingly evident.


  1. Bowden, M. G., Behrman, A. L., Woodbury, M., Gregory, C. M., Velozo, C. A., & Kautz, S. A. (2012). Advancing Measurement of Locomotor Rehabilitation Outcomes to Optimize Interventions and Differentiate Between Recovery Versus Compensation. Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy, 36(1), 38–44.

  2. Coronado, R. A., Master, H., Bley, J. A., Robinette, P. E., Sterling, E. K., O’Brien, M. T., Henry, A. L., Pennings, J. S., Vanston, S. W., Myczkowski, B., Skolasky, R. L., Wegener, S. T., & Archer, K. R. (2022). Patient-Centered Goals After Lumbar Spine Surgery: A Secondary Analysis of Cognitive-Behavioral-Based Physical Therapy Outcomes From a Randomized Controlled Trial. Physical Therapy, 102(9).

  3. Kwok, A., Cheung, D., Gordon, M., Mudryk, E., & Manns, P. J. (2022). Patient and therapist perspectives on physical therapy outcome measures and engagement after stroke: A case study. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, 1–12.

  4. Raad, J. H., Papadimitriou, C., Jordan, N., & Heinemann, A. W. (2020). Allied Health Professionals Utilization of Standard Measures: Assessing Measurement Practice in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Journal of Allied Health, 49(2), 92–98.

  5. Sivertsen, M., Arntzen, E. C., Alstadhaug, K., & Normann, B. (2022). Effect of innovative vs. usual care physical therapy in subacute rehabilitation after stroke. A multicenter randomized controlled trial. Frontiers in Rehabilitation Sciences, 3, 987601.

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