Physical Therapy – Considerations when treating a Deaf Client.

Manual Handling, who’s responsibility is it anyway?
May 8, 2019

Physical Therapy – Considerations when treating a Deaf Client.

  • Offer the use of a sign language interpreter for at least the first visit, in order to get an accurate medical history and discussion regarding symptoms, previous treatments etc.

  • Discuss methods of communicating for the future, learn specific signs for example, pain, relief, ask the Deaf person what they think will be useful in terms of signs for communication.

  • Be prepared to write notes back and forth as a method of communication.

  • Ensure that all the information regarding treatments, stretches, explanations etc is written down clearly so that the Deaf person can understand it and read over it again at a later date, keep copies of everything written down for future reference.

  • Keep in mind that English is normally the second language for the Deaf person and so any written information and terminology must be kept simple and clear in order for it to be understood, don’t use too much jargon and be prepared to explain what things mean.

  • Offer to have an interpreter present at future treatments but don’t just assume that every Deaf person will want an interpreter; some prefer other methods of communication. Always ask the Deaf person what THEY prefer before the consultation goes ahead.

  • Always plan to have more time for a Deaf client, communication and explanations may take longer than for a hearing client.

  • Be aware that if the Deaf client is face down on the bed that they may not be able to hear you or understand you if you speak, save questions or explanations for when they are looking at you.

  • M-BestPractice-21

    Communication Tips:

  • Always face the Deaf person when speaking to them.

  • Do not cover your mouth or obstruct your mouth when speaking, i.e chewing gum, pencil, fingers.

  • Speak slowly but normally, do not over emphasise words, this makes it harder to lip-read. Bear in mind most people only understand about 20% of the information when relying solely on lip reading.

  • If the Deaf person doesn’t understand what you have said don’t just repeat the same sentence, change the words or the structure of the sentence; some words are easier to lip read than others. For example, “Does it hurt here?” “Where is it painful?”

  • Try to use open ended questions so that you know by the response that the Deaf person has understood, if their answers are always yes/no you can’t be sure that they have fully understood what has been said, many Deaf people agree or say yes/no to questions that they haven’t entirely understood as they may prefer to look as if they’ve understood.

  • Always write down information as you go so that vital details are not forgotten at the end of the session, make sure the Deaf person is privy to the notes that you are writing so that they can ask for clarification as the session progresses, they are also more likely to understand the notes later on when they re-read them.

  • Be patient and willing to repeat yourself, it is the client’s right to know as much about their treatment plan as anyone else you would treat.

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