Rebalance Yonge & Adelaide Yonge & Adelaide
Physiotherapy Toronto TTC SubwayPhysiotherapy Office Toronto PATH
110 Yonge Street Suite #905
Toronto, ON M5C 1T4Rebalance Sports Medicine - 110 Yonge Street Suite #905

T: (416) 777-9999
F: 1-866-338-1236
E: [email protected]

Rebalance University & KingUniversity & King
Downtown Toronto Physio TTC
155 University Avenue Suite #303
Toronto, ON M5H 3B7
Rebalance Sports Medicine - 155 University Avenue Suite #303

T: (416) 306-1111
F: 1-866-204-0961
E: [email protected]

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Goal setting featureWorking with individuals to come up with specific goals is an important part of the rehabilitation (rehab) process. Goals are the outcome of what we wish to achieve; they are the driver for coming in for treatment, performing exercises, and implementing changes at home. As health care professionals, it is important to determine what is meaningful for a patient and mutually come up with SMART goals that are both short and long-term.

Why is Setting Goals Important in Rehab?

Setting up goals increases the chance of achieving success. In a clinical setting, having goals is very helpful in keeping patients motivated and aware of gains.

A long-term goal like playing basketball pain-free after knee surgery might be what gets a patient started with rehab but having short term goals along the way helps affirm that the process is working. Celebrating the small wins along the way, like achieving full knee range of motion, are a way to demonstrate things are in fact improving, even though they might be a long way from playing basketball. Often a patient comes in intending to decrease pain; this is an important goal but it is necessary to expand on this, to make it more meaningful and to determine what needs to be accomplished to decrease the pain.

How to Set Rehab Goals?

Goal SettingWhen goal setting, it is important for a goal to have specific qualities. SMART goals originated in the business world but have been largely applied in the rehab setting.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

If someone has a goal of “being active” it is helpful to narrow that down to something a bit more specific, for example, to run. We then must use a measure, kilometers, and determine what would be physiologically possible, attainable and realistic, for that individual at that given time. If the goal were to run a marathon but the individual has never run and doesn’t have the time to properly train for a marathon, a more realistic short term goal might be to run 5km. A target date should then be set to improve motivation; this creates a sense of urgency. Working with a therapist who has assessed you will help to make realistic, attainable goals. A goal for this person might be “To run 5 km, without pain, in 8 weeks”

If you are thinking about coming to Rebalance Sports Medicine for treatment, start thinking about what is important to you. Our team of health care professionals can work with you to set short- and long-term SMART goals. These will be individualized to you and help track changes along the way but most importantly keep you motivated in the rehabilitation process.


  1. Goal setting in rehabilitation: an overview of what, why and how
    Derick T Wade Clin. Rehabil. 2009;23(4):291-5
  2. Doran GT There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives
    Management Rev 70.11 (November 1981): 35-36.

Bonnie Winship, Physiotherapist

Bonnie Winship is a registered physiotherapist practicing at Rebalance Sports Medicine in downtown Toronto.

Yonge & AdelaideRebalance Clinic Yonge Adelaide
110 Yonge Street Suite 905
Toronto, ON M5C 1T4
T: (416) 777-9999
E: [email protected]
University & KingRebalance Clinic University King
155 University Avenue Suite 303
Toronto, ON M5H 3B7
T: (416) 306-1111
E: [email protected]

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