May 6, 2022 | Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA

2 min read

Helping Yourself First Can Save Your Rehab Therapy Practice

Anyone who’s ever flown on a commercial aircraft has heard the safety spiel that airline attendants give when the plane is taxiing toward the runway. If you’re a frequent flier, perhaps you tune it out. But, you probably know the gist.

Keep your seat backs and tray tables upright. Fasten your safety belts. In the event of water landings, use your seat cushion as a floatation device. cl

And then, there’s the bit about oxygen masks dropping from the ceiling in the “unlikely event” the cabin loses pressure. This part makes perfect sense in the context of my daily work to help rehab therapy practice owners realize their visions.

That’s because after telling you how to properly secure the mask of your face, the flight attendant then adds what I see as the most important part of their message: “Secure your own mask before helping those around you.”

Take Care of Yourself First

What does this have to do with managing an outpatient rehab therapy practice? Let’s first dive into the objective of this message from the airline’s perspective: the safe delivery of every passenger to their final destination.

That’s every passenger, not just those who can operate an oxygen mask.

But, while the airline has every passenger in mind in the event of an emergency, they instruct them all to take care of themselves first before then helping others.

Why is this? A few reasons:

  • It maximizes the ability of all passengers to contribute to the emergency.
  • It will save the most lives.
  • You can’t effectively help others unless you’re first in an optimal position to help them.
  • You need oxygen, or you’ll die … no matter how selfless your intentions.

All of this applies to me, to you, and to your physical, occupational and/or speech therapy practice.

Become a More Effective Rehab Therapist

Making this connection with your clinic may initially feel like a bit of a stretch, but it’s actually a similar concept.

Rehab therapists tend to be altruistic by nature, which can sometimes lead them to focus more narrowly on patient outcomes and experiences. This is truly commendable, but we can’t forget to secure our own oxygen masks before assisting others.


  • You and your clinic need resources in order to survive.
  • You need money. And, you need energy, happiness and passion.
  • Unless your own cup is full (or at least close to it), you simply won’t be able to effectively help those around you.

So, if you’re taking care of yourself first – fully intending to develop the strength and momentum to most optimally take care of others – don’t feel bad about it. You’re taking the right steps toward doing the most good, and you’re positioning yourself to most effectively serve your patients.

Ultimate Guide to Therapist Productivity

Get 30+ pages of detailed information to help your team manage this crucial element of your rehab therapy operation.

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