How to Increase Home Exercise Program Compliance

How to increase home exercise program compliance for parents of children with disabilities can be a tough question to answer. Parents have a particularly tough job today.  Juggling work, home life, children’s schedules, homework assignments and more can feel impossible on some days.  Add home exercise programs for parents to perform with their children in between therapy sessions and it can certainly feel like overload.  As therapists, we know that parental participation in a home exercise program can have positive effects on the children and even themselves.  For example, it can be very difficult to teach a child to get dressed independently, but once they can do the skill by themselves, it is one less skill a parent has to help with.  We need to be cognizant of the fact that parents need all the help they can to make carry over of home exercise programs easier.  According to the recent research below, the therapist’s delivery of the home exercise program can make a big difference!

Suggestions to Increase Home Exercise Program Compliance

Recent research investigated whether the different behaviors of health professionals and parents influenced home exercise compliance in terms of frequency and duration for children with disabilities.  Parents completed a survey in 18 different early intervention facilities to determine how physicians and therapists interventions influence parents regarding their adherence to a home exercise program (HEP).  The results indicated the following:

  • rate of adherence to the prescribed frequency and duration of the HEP was similar (about 61%)
  • parents who were comfortable integrating the exercises into their daily routine had a higher probability of adherence to the frequency and duration
  • there was a significant impact on the frequency of the HEP being completed when the professional provided information about: the progress, evolution and usefulness of the exercises, ways to include them into the daily routine, checking on skills during follow up and asking about HEP adherence.


The researchers concluded that physicians and therapists can help to increase HEP compliance by providing information on the purpose of the exercises, instructions for the HEP, tips on incorporating the HEP into the daily routine and following up by checking skills and asking about HEP adherence.

Reference:  Medina-Mirapeix, F., Lillo-Navarro, C., Montilla-Herrador, J., Gacto-Sanchez, M., Franco-Sierra, M. Á., & Escolar-Reina, P. (2017). Predictors of parents’ adherence to home exercise programs for children with developmental disabilities, regarding both exercise frequency and duration: a survey design. European journal of physical and rehabilitation medicine.

Resources to Help with Home Exercise Compliance

Therapeutic Activities for Home and School provides pediatric therapists with over forty, uncomplicated, reproducible activity sheets and tips that can be given to parents and teachers. Each activity sheet is written in a simple format with no medical terminology. The therapist is able to simply mark the recommended activities for each child. By providing parents and teachers with these handy checklists, therapists will be encouraging therapeutic activities throughout the entire day rather than time set aside for traditional home exercise programs. This book is an essential tool for all school based therapists to facilitate carry over of therapeutic activities in the home and classroom.  FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION.

The Busy Therapist Bundle includes 7 digital download packets of hand outs covering a wide array of topics for school based occupational and physical therapists.  The bundle includes over 100 hand outs to give to teachers and parents.  Click on each link to view more information about the 7 titles:

  1.  What? Why? How? Series 1
  2. What? Why? How? Series 2
  3. What? Why? How? Series 3
  4. What? Why? How? Series 4 
  5. 25 Tips Sheets for School Based Therapists
  6. 25 MORE Tip Sheets for School Based Therapists
  7. Even 35 MORE Tip Sheets for School Based Therapists

Read more about home exercise programs:

5 Characteristics of Successful Carry Over Activities

Follow Through With Home Physical Therapy Programs

5 Simple Reminders for Home Exercise Programs

OT Home Programs Effective For CP

OT Home Programs Make a Difference