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People can be stubborn — unwilling to change bad habits or behavior that can be harmful to their bodies. That's why one necessary skill for physical therapists is to motivate their patients and clients to modify their actions in ways that increase the likelihood of successful physical therapist interventions.

Daniel Pinto, PT, PhD, an assistant professor at Marquette University, presented "ABCs of Behavior Change" at APTA's Combined Sections Meeting in 2019. The session examined different ways to understand human behavior, from the perspectives of both economics and behavioral science.

"The profession is waking up to the fact that so much of what we do is behavioral change," Pinto says, explaining, "It's not atypical to have an experience with a patient who comes in with an acute episode of pain. You work with them to bring the pain down. Along the way, there's a shared understanding of the root of the problem. Often, to get someone fully independent, you need to facilitate a lifestyle change."

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