Drivers racing their stock cars around the track stay alert to signal flags so they don't injure themselves or others. Just like a traffic light, the red flag signals an immediate stop to the race because of hazardous conditions, such as severe weather or a serious accident.
Therapists have their own "red flags": the young man with a traumatic brain injury whose physical response to therapy doesn't match expectations, or the elderly woman who develops yet another medical problem during her poststroke speech therapy. When a red flag pops up, therapists jump into action, ensuring that physicians and other members of the team are aware of the problem so the patient gets the help he or she needs.
But what about patients with psychosocial problems? In this issue of Therapy Insider, you'll read about "yellow flags" therapists should watch for. Sam Kegerreis, PT, ATC, a full professor in the Krannert School of Physical Therapy at the University of Indianapolis, says yellow flags, such as sleep disturbances and social isolation, signal therapists that patients need psychosocial support. In stock car racing, the yellow flag means to slow down and proceed carefully. Similarly, therapists need to proceed carefully and make referrals to experts who can help patients cope with their difficulties.
Yellow flags are just one tip you'll learn in the article "When the challenge isn't physical," which addresses the "challenging" patient. Such experiences force therapists to draw deep for patience and expertise.
Now, one more flag: green for "go." Go read this issue's articles for information you can apply in your practice.
Cynthia A. Laufenberg
Senior Editor, Therapy Insider