Why our therapists completed their own HEP and why your child should too!
Here at Cheshire Fitness Zone, an “HEP” or “Home exercise program” is a term our patient’s hear frequently. For Physical therapy month in October, the physical therapists had a home exercise competition. We challenged each other to complete a series of exercises at a frequency of 4 times per week. Although most therapists were successful, it was still challenging! Needless to say, it is difficult to build in the time into our other daily routines and responsibilities. There is no doubt that our patients and their parents may feel similarly.
However, there is evidence showing that following an HEP will help achieve and maintain gains whether it be in strength, function, or learning a new skill. It is one of the most important aspects of not only physical therapy, but also other disciplines at CFZ such as speech and language, and occupational therapy.
Repetitions of a task not only at therapy sessions, but at home will help children generalize certain activities into different settings. When starting a HEP, initially changes occur on a neurological level. Increased neurological impulses are generated which help with recruitment of muscle fibers. Eventually strength gains will occur, but this can take approximately 6-8 weeks! For Children or adults with lower muscle tone, it may require more time for these changes to take place. When creating new skills, whether it be skipping, learning to tie shoe laces, or transferring food from one side of your mouth to the other, this can take up to 5,000 (or more) repetitions!
Not only is an HEP important for progressing a plan of care, but it is also financially beneficial for families who may have a larger co-pay or out of pocket costs. Improved follow through at home can certainly help address this difficult challenge.
In closing, If you are a family that has had a difficult time motivating your child to complete their HEP, don’t be afraid to ask your therapist for guidance! Often times using a reward system or fun ways to track progress can help with compliance. Knowing your child’s goals, understanding the purpose of said HEP and ways to incorporate them into day to day, will also help promote optimal outcomes.