If you’ve had an injury, whether or not it required surgery, physical therapy is often a key part of recovery. Finding the right physical therapist is an important part of ensuring that your recovery goes according to plan and that you return to full health.
The key here is to find the RIGHT physical therapist. Finding A physical therapist is easy. Physical therapy clinics are all over the place. Not all physical therapy is the same so you want to make sure that you find the right therapist for your needs.
In order to find the right PT for you there are five questions you should ask prior to starting treatment. If you interview any medical professional and they dismiss your questions it’s perfectly reasonable to seek out another option.
- What will a typical session look like?
Will you see the same physical therapist each time? Will you work with a physical therapy assistant? Will you receive manual therapy? How long are the sessions? These may or may not be concerns for you but they may be important factors in deciding on where you will complete your physical therapy.
- What do you expect from me?
Physical therapy is a two-way street. PT’s usually expect you to perform home exercises on your own to both expedite the process and help ingrain new movement patterns that will reduce the chance of future injury. Some therapists expect more than others and if you are uncomfortable with what your therapist may expect have this discussion early on so neither party has bad feelings.
- What is your treatment philosophy?
Every therapist has their own treatment philosophy. While many of us share similar philosophies and guiding principles, we all have different influences that make our treatments unique. Subsequently, not every therapist’s approach will be the right fit for what you need.
- What expertise do you possess that makes you uniquely qualified to treat my condition?
Most PT’s receive similar formal educations, however we tend to specialize after getting our degrees based on our interests, experience, continuing education courses, professional influences, further readings, etc. While some therapists specialize in orthopedics, others specialize in vestibular rehab or even sub-specialize in sports or concussions. Try to find a therapist who can best address your needs.
- How can you assure that I will receive the right care for my unique situation?
Some clinics see multiple people an hour, while some therapists see one person an hour. Some provide a standard protocol for an injury, while others individualize their practice. Make sure to find the therapist who is uniquely qualified, perhaps with a special interest in your issue, and a clinic that fits your expectations.
- What doctors do you work the most with?
Many times doctors will have preferred physical therapists depending on issues and results those PT’s have historically gained. It is important to ask about this connection and understand the complete communication that both parties can be in to gain you the results you are looking for.
Throughout the process there should be open communication between you, your therapist, and your physician. Recovery is a joint effort and you should always be able to receive answers to your questions. This keeps everyone on the same page and helps to assure that you are receiving the best interventions for your condition.
These questions should help you to find a physical therapist when you may be navigating unfamiliar territory. Make sure you are comfortable with the PT you choose because therapy often lasts several weeks or months and you should be happy and comfortable with your decision.