Setting Physical Therapy Goals for Rehabilitation

Treating patients without setting goals can be challenging. According to the guide to physical therapist practice, goals and objectives should be set prior to initiating the examination and intervention. 

If you are a physical therapist endeavoring to set physical therapy goals in a clinical setting, read this article to learn more. 

The Importance of Setting Physical Therapy Goals

Goal-setting is a process in which you discuss, document, and plan an outcome measure for your patient. Depending on the health condition, it can be simple, like communicating with the patient, or complicated, like collaborating with other professionals in a multidisciplinary healthcare setting.

So, there are many reasons why setting goals for physical therapy is crucial. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • It helps to find a way and purpose while planning a patient-centred treatment protocol. Working in a structured way builds confidence and motivates the therapist and patient to achieve the goal. To turn your focus to patient-centered, you can consider a biopsychosocial model
  • Symptoms vary from patient to patient. Therefore, your goals should be tailored to reflect patients’ needs and preferences. In this way, you may succeed, and the patient may take an active part throughout the treatment process until recovery. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), a physical therapist should identify the goals and objectives the patient wants to achieve. This encourages patients to participate actively during the goal-setting process. 
  • It provides a common ground for working efficiently in a multidisciplinary healthcare setting. By setting physiotherapy goals, you can communicate and collaborate with other healthcare professionals to assess your patient holistically and align your treatment goals with others, leading to more effective therapy. 

Types of Physical Therapy Goals

Setting patient-centered goals requires various factors to be considered. Therefore, there are various types of physical therapy goals that you can consider before planning treatment protocols. 

1. Short-Term Goals

This type of goal requires three months to achieve (depending on the patient’s needs). Short-term goals include improving the range of motion (ROM) of shoulder abduction from 90 to 140 degrees so the patient can comb hair in four weeks.

2. Long-Term Goals

It is a goal that is accomplished within six months (depending on the patient’s needs). Long-term goals include making patients walk without any assistive device in three months. 

3. Functional Goals

This type of goal targets patients’ activities of daily living (ADLs). It focuses on improving patients’ function so they can easily do ADLs. This goal is also part of short-term and long-term goals. An example includes making patients able to climb stairs or walk independently. 

4. Strength And Endurance

This type of goal targets strengthening weak muscles and building endurance, especially in those patients who are immobile for a very long time. This goal helps improve muscle function, joint stability, and cardiopulmonary fitness. The example includes phase 2 cardiopulmonary rehabilitation in post-coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) patients to increase endurance, 

5. Pain Alleviation Goals

This goal works on reducing and eliminating pain. Many techniques and modalities alleviate pain. Manual physical therapy is a technique in which a physical therapist manipulates muscles and joints using their hands. 

APTA recommends that long-term and short-term physical therapy goals should include:

  • Patient or caregiver identification.
  • Explanation of the restricted motion.
  • Connectivity between the movement and the function.
  • Activity performed for particular conditions.
  • The time frame in which the goal should be achieved. 

The above-mentioned physical therapy goals examples, and types reflect the diversity of the therapy provided to meet each patient’s needs according to their condition. Collaborating with patients and caregivers is essential to achieving optimum outcomes and functional independence in the long term. 

Strategies To Achieve Physical Therapy Goals

Establishing goals of rehabilitation requires a systematic approach. The following are some strategies that can be used to attain the goals.


SMART is the acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-related. 

Specific goals mean making your goals precise for an effective treatment plan, such as climbing a particular number of stairs or lifting an exact weight. Measurable goals reflect the progress of the goal, such as achieving a specific range of motion. 

Achievable goals target a time frame in which your goal should be achieved. Relevant goals conclude that it should be in accordance with the patient’s objectives and needs. Time-bound goals provide a realistic time frame for attaining the goal.

MEANING Approach For Setting Goals

It stands for meaning, engagement, anchoring, negotiation, intention-implementation gap, new goals, and goals as behavior changes. This approach includes if-then plans that focus on building patient-centered strategic interventions. 

ICF Approach

It stands for the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health. It focuses on health and disability at individual and population levels. It includes body function and structure, activity, participation, and environmental components. 

It is a holistic goal-setting approach emphasizing evaluating results and interdisciplinary communication or collaboration. It covers the biological, social, and individual aspects of health. 


Goal attainment scaling (GAS) is a type of quantifiable strategy for analyzing physical therapy goals. It uses a five-point scale to determine whether a goal has been achieved.

MOCEAN- An Ideal Place For Rehabilitation!

If you are looking for a perfect place to get physical therapy services, Mocean is the right choice!

We are proud to say that our professional physical therapists provide excellent rehabilitation by using new strategies and setting realistic physical therapy goals to cure patients. Our patients have shown remarkable improvement.  

The Mocean Wellness Center in NYC provides the most comforting environment during rehab. You can also consult with our team before beginning therapy.

The Bottom Line

Setting goals is the fundamental component of physical therapy and requires a systematic approach. It is essential to set realistic goals for physical therapy before beginning treatment. The goals must be set while considering your values and according to the patient’s needs and care. Many strategies can be followed to set goals according to the specific condition. 

If you want effective physical therapy rehabilitation, book your appointment at Mocean Longevity Center in NYC today! 

Then we create a health plan tailored to your needs.

Based on the results, we develop a personalized treatment plan for each individual to promote optimal health. With 1-on-1 consultations, cutting-edge technology, and a team of experts who care about getting you better, MOCEAN offers you a comprehensive road map on how to become the healthiest version of yourself.