Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on 9-11. Volunteer today


AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy


The tablet with free 24/7 customer support. Learn More


Military and Veterans Discount



AARP Games - Play Now!


Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.


Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.



Heart Disease


Most Popular


Physical Therapy: Choose Wisely

Finding the right physical therapy regimen is the first step to feeling better

I had walked the course too slowly. She never told me to walk it as fast as I could. I had asked her if I could use my arms to help me stand up from the chair. “Do what’s most comfortable,” was her reply. Then she deducted points because I used my arms to help me stand. Her conclusion: “You’re very weak. I don’t know what we can do for you.”

You don’t talk that way to a patient looking for help. Care providers are powerful people in our lives. She could have encouraged and motivated me — but instead, she did the opposite.

Based on the nurse’s recommendations, the center designed a toothless exercise program for me that would not have challenged a grade-school kid. This was not therapy at all. Obviously, the therapists had given up on me before they even started. I had asked for one person to work with me for continuity but saw a new face every time I arrived. The treatments were not challenging; the PT staff were condescending. When I left for the last time, no one ever bothered to ask why.

I sat around at home in my gymshorts, all dressed down with nowhere to go. I remembered that my wife Meredith had liked the physical therapy she had after she tore both hamstrings while training for a marathon. The place she went was called Spears, which sounded lithe and sharp enough for me.

Within minutes of my first session there, I was sweating. I was on my back, feet atop a large rubber ball. The trainer would push or pull or move the ball diagonally. My job was to sense the direction and resist. He understood my physical weaknesses and pushed and prodded, getting me to endure difficult exercises to strengthen muscles. There was no condescension, only professionalism. The trainers wanted feedback: “Talk to me,” mine demanded. “How does it feel?”

The lesson? Physical therapy can be valuable, but shop carefully. Respect is a powerful motivating force. I am content with the blood, sweat and tears — and I’m getting better.

Emmy-winning TV producer and author Richard Cohen has lived with multiple sclerosis for more than 30 years. He writes bi-weekly about living a full life with a chronic disease.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Walgreens 1 discount membership aarp

Members can earn 50 points per $1 spent on select health & wellness products at Walgreens.

member benefit aarp hear usa

Members save 15% on easy listening devices and more at the HearUSA Hearing Shop.

Eye Med 4 Membership Benefit AARP Discount

Members save up to 60% on eye exams and 30% on glasses at Target Optical.

Membership Benefits Discounts Email Genius

Brain boost? Get AARP email for access to memory exercises & more that help you focus.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points