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 a few tips when looking to choose who you go see for your pain or functional limitation.
#7 Advice from family/friends…certainly good referrals, but one must consider the skill set of the treating therapist. 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. Check out the reviews to see what others think.
#6 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.
#5 Insurance…certainly important, however with rising medical costs pushed to the consumer many are paying out of pocket for therapy services anyway until they meet their high deductible plans.
#4 Recommendation from MD…In the history of medicine, patients often did not question what their MD told them. This however is much less common nowadays. Even when advised, it is still a good idea to do a little research. As large corporations are buying up small family practices, relationships with physical therapists are becoming lost. Why you might ask? Because the doctors are told by the corporation to refer only to PTs in THEIR system regardless of quality or skill. This is a borderline illegal practice but one that is overlooked. YOU as the PATIENT have the RIGHT to go to whoever you choose. AND if you are told otherwise, then please report this to the state board of medical examiners, and go seek the best care you know you DESERVE and have the RIGHT to.
#3 Seek a PT who you can build a relationship with…your body is likely to need a tune-up from time to time as the body ages (such is life). It is good to have that mechanic who learns/understands you so that if (when) you do need help again, they already have a working knowledge of you. This also helps to create a continuity of care that is to the benefit of the patient.
#2 Call and question their knowledge. You may be able to get a sense of the therapist’s knowledge and whether they may be able to help your issue. Feel free to call or text me for prompt service.
#1 Credentials….those initials behind their name. The DPT (or MPT if educated longer ago) signifies our entry-level degree. But those other letters, say that therapist spent time and effort to further their knowledge and education to become better at their craft. For those seeking outpatient care, receiving care from therapists who are board certified in orthopedic (OCS) or who have the designation of FAAOMPT (only 1% of profession) are likely to experience greater return of function in fewer visits (Rodeghero 2015).
Now that you have seen my list. Please let me know your thoughts. What do you feel is most important when choosing a physical therapist or any medical professional you go to see?