Professional tools and a personal touch - experiences of physical therapy of persons with migraine

Disabil Rehabil. 2013 Sep;35(19):1614-21. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2012.748838. Epub 2013 Jan 11.


Purpose: The aim was to explore the lived experience of physical therapy of persons with migraine.

Method: Data were collected by conducting narrative interviews with 11 persons with migraine. Inspired by van Manen, a hermeneutic phenomenological method was used to analyse the experiences of physical therapy which these persons had.

Results: Physical therapy for persons with migraine meant making an effort in terms of time and energy to improve their health by meeting a person who was utilising his or her knowledge and skill to help. Being respected and treated as an individual and having confidence in the physical therapist were highlighted aspects. The analysis revealed a main theme, "meeting a physical therapist with professional tools and a personal touch". The main theme included four sub-themes, "investing time and energy to feel better", "relying on the competence of the physical therapist", "wanting to be treated and to become involved as an individual" and "being respected in a trustful relationship".

Conclusions: The therapeutic relationship with the physical therapist is important and the findings of this study can increase awareness about relational aspects of physical therapy and encourage thoughtfulness among physical therapists and other healthcare professionals interacting with persons with migraine.

Implications for rehabilitation: Physical therapists use both professional tools and a personal touch in their interaction with persons with migraine and this article can increase physical therapists' awareness and encourage thoughtfulness in their professional practice. Being respected and treated as an individual and having confidence in the physical therapist are important aspects of the therapeutic relationship and indicate a need for patient-centred care. By making the effort of spending the time and energy required, physical therapy could be a complement or an alternative to medication to ease the consequences of migraine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Awareness
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / psychology
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy*
  • Narration
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient-Centered Care / methods*
  • Physical Therapists / psychology*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Concept
  • Sweden