When a patient is in physical therapy for an impairment or injury and has met his or her functional goal, he or she must keep working to maintain the progress he or she gained. To prevent regression, a physical therapist can develop a maintenance plan.
A maintenance plan is different from a rehabilitation plan, because the goal is not to increase progress and clinical improvement. The goal of a maintenance plan is simply to maintain function. When a patient has a chronic or stable condition and does not need supervision any longer, he or she can work on the program independently.
The previously prescribed home exercise program should be changed to meet maintenance goals and reflect the progress the patient has made. Medical massage can also be performed as part of a maintenance program. Stretching is an important part of any routine, and a patient will most likely perform passive and active stretches as part of his or her exercise program. If he or she is familiar with pool exercises and has performed them in the past, this is also an option when supervised by a therapist.
If a patient does not maintain his or her progress, he or she is likely to decline and regress risking re-injury. A therapist might continue to use manual therapy and different modalities as he or she sees fit for the patient’s needs.