Using Keywords in PT Home Exercise Program Handouts

If you aren’t amazed by the breadth of human movement, then you aren’t paying attention. From the exquisite balance of an ice skater, to the agility of a breakdancer, or the extreme power of strongman competitor, the human body is a phenomenal machine. The things that we can do with these bodies is unreal!

The problem with having such a huge variety of movement is that our day-to-day language is ill-prepared to express the variations eloquently.  Do you report the type of muscle action involved, such as isotonic, or isometric? Do you detail every muscle that is involved in completing the motion? Do you describe the starting and stopping positions? Do you explain what planes of the body were encountered during the movement?

These issues become a problem when designing an exercise prescription software platform. How do you convey the different ways your users might think to describe a motion? Besides different explanations, people often have entirely different names for the same exercise.

One person’s “calf raise”, is another person’s “heel raise”. In America we call it a push-up. In England the same exercise is called a press-up. Is the exercise you have your elderly clients perform a chair dip, or is it a chair push-up?

In order to help you create your PT home exercise program handouts with greater ease, a well-designed software program must consider these differences. The problem isn’t on you to guess what the software has labelled a movement. The problem is on the software itself.

For example, how many different ways could you think to label or explain a dumbbell squat?

Using a hierarchy is one way to help find the motion easier. A squat is predominantly a lower body exercise, so first navigate to the “knee & hip” section of the dropdowns. Then, scroll to the type of movement, i.e. “squats”. Once you are in this category, you will find dozens of different squat variations to choose from.

This hierarchical search entails at least three steps. That seems a bit tedious, right? There must to be a faster way to find an exercise, if you have a specific movement in mind!

Enter the idea of a KEYWORD search.

If you know that your dumbbell squat variation is often referred to as a “goblet squat”, then why not search specifically for that phrase? Don’t waste time navigating to the squat variations, and scrolling until you find the goblet squat.

Type “goblet squat”, or better yet, just “goblet” in the search bar.

The keyword search transports you directly to the movement that you had in mind.

Thus, if there is a skill that you know is commonly referred to by certain name, try searching based on that keyword. BPM Rx is loaded with over a dozen keywords per illustration, so your chances are good that the common names have been identified.

Is an acronym often applied to the movement? Are you looking for a SAQ, LAQ, or TKE? Type it in the search bar, and a handful of illustrations that apply to those exercises will be brought up.

Of course, the keyword search loses power when the search term isn’t specific enough. If you search based on a broad category like a squat or lunge, then a huge array of illustrations will be returned.

The more specific you make your search, the more relevant your results will be.

This brings us back to the problem at the top of the page. In the end, you might have a totally different name for an exercise then the ones contained within the PT software program. In that case, feel free to send an email asking for a solution. For 90% of the cases emailed, the exercise is already in the database, but how to find the movement wasn’t clear enough. In the other 10% of cases, the exercise hadn’t been illustrated yet. In those circumstances, the exercise is added to the list of pictures to shoot, and it becomes prioritized for upload with the next batch.

Another thing to consider is that you don’t need to be limited in your keyword search based on the name or description of a movement. Sometimes it makes more sense to perform the search based on a patient population. Are you working with seniors/geriatrics? Type in those terms and your selection will be tailored more tightly to your needs.

You can also search with keywords that related to a physical therapy diagnosis or procedure. Searching for “frozen shoulder” or post-op “THA”/”TKA” will return exercise suggestions that are commonly used for those conditions.

Remember though that the tagging of the keywords at this point is the direct result of human time and effort. There is no artificial intelligence helping with categorizing and tagging. AI may be employed in the future, but until then, all of the thought for how to tag an exercise comes from professional experience.

Bottom line: Try using the search bar to find the exercise you need based on a few keywords that you think make sense. If you aren’t having any luck, feel free to shoot me a message. I will either help you find the illustration, or I’ll prioritize to have it added to the image library ASAP.

Providing clients with effective home exercise programs is important work, and BPM Rx is here to help. Please communicate your needs early, and as often as necessary.