I have come to a realization that many individuals are not sure what to look for when selecting a Physical Therapist. Many seem to think it does not or will not make much of a difference. For most, it is call some office and play the therapist roulette game. Which therapist had the 1st open slot that fits your schedule. Who knows how much experience they really have. Not to mention starting with one provider only to see 3 more assistants along the way. Maybe 15 minutes of face time with your actual evaluating therapist each session if you are lucky.
All this to say choosing a Physical Therapist should be a little like choosing your doctor. Just like all doctors are not experts in all aspects of medicine, neither are physical therapists. As you would typically not go to your PCP for your cardiac issue, you should take stock in the PT’s background to best treat your condition. We walk away from school with the same credentials, but the similarities end there. All educations are not created equal either, but that is another issue altogether.
Below are the TOP 11 TIPS one should consider when seeking help from a physical therapist for an issue impacting their mobility or independence. (They are in no particular order).
#11 Availability/convenience…How easy is it to get an appointment time that suits you? Morning, Afternoon, Evening, Weekend? How about being seen at your home or place of business? What could be better than not evening having to leave your home or leave work early and battle traffic for an appointment?
#10 Advice from family/friends…certainly good referrals. One must always consider the skill set of the treating therapist though. Is your condition like the one who gave you the advice? Just because a therapist is good with one condition does not mean they are good with all.
#9 How much time and attention….will you be receiving from your primary physical therapist? Do not let yourself be fooled by large corporations or chains who say they deliver 1:1 care. Large PT providers have their patient care driven by productivity, not patient outcomes. This means each PT will be managing 2 or more (mostly more) patients at once trying to meet unattainable benchmarks. Meaning your care could and most likely will be supervised by assistants or other support staff. You will never be told this on the phone, but it is true.
#8 Active v. Passive treatments…be wary of the provider who you see using passive treatments such as ice/heat, ultrasound, estim, massage on Every Single Patient. While those treatments may “feel good” are they really helping you to achieve the end goal of better function with less pain or stiffness? Look for a PT who uses a unique active approach for patients. If you are told 3 sets of 10 for every exercise – time to find someone else.
#7 Location….somewhat important, however, what is more important convenience or achieving resolution of pain/function quicker? Patients drive hours to see a doctor they view a skilled so why not drive a few minutes more to the most skilled therapist you can access.
#6 Ease of Communication…how easily can you get in contact with your treating therapist? Via phone, text, email. How quickly will they respond to you? On weekends? Holidays? When most therapists leave the office, they leave their work their and will wait to respond until
Stay tuned next week for Part 2