First of all, if there is one idea you take away from today’s blog it is this:
YOU HAVE A CHOICE OF WHERE YOU HAVE YOUR PHYSICAL THERAPY.
Similar to how you would get a prescription for medication and then go to any one of numerous pharmacies, you can get a prescription for physical therapy and go to a clinic of your choice. (I am referring to PT in the state of Texas. Unfortunately politics got in the way of allowing direct access in Texas, unlike in 47 other states where you can go directly to a physical therapist and get treated without a prescription. This will be a future blog.) If a doctor prescribes physical therapy but is trying to make you go to a specific clinic (or their own) but you want to go elsewhere, ask for the prescription. If they refuse to give it to you, report them to the physical therapy board.
So what do you do now that you have a physical therapy prescription?
I will give you a list of what I think is important when looking for a physical therapist.
1) All else being equal, a physical therapist (PT) or physical therapist assistant (PTA) treating you one on one is in my opinion the most important thing . What is essential for readers to understand is that a PT/PTA are licensed professionals, while aides/technicians are not. If you are not being treated by a PT/PTA you are not receiving physical therapy (this is my opinion but with some insurances, mostly Medicare and some workers compensation these are the rules and therapists/clinics are not allowed to bill for time not spent with the patient). Again, with all other things being equal there is no way that a physical therapist can provide the same level of care and attention when seeing multiple patients at one time compared to a therapist treating one on one. As a patient, ask for this and if not provided look elsewhere. This will be a future blog post covering in more detail.
2) Look for a physical therapist that has experience and knowledge with your specific problem. For example, I think I do a really good job with ACL reconstructions and return to sport. I also think I do a good job with overhead athletes (baseball/softball/volleyball/swimming). I wouldn’t be a good option for a patient who had a severe stroke or other neurological issues. It is similar to how a person wouldn’t go to their cardiovascular surgeon for a knee replacement. Find a therapist that is an expert with your particular situation.
3) Look for a therapist who is a good fit for you and you are comfortable with. In general a physical therapist should be empathetic, listens and genuinely acts like they care.
4) Do your due diligence. By this I mean do a little research and don’t just go to the cheapest therapist you can find. Ask friends who have had therapy where they went and if they were happy. Ask if you can meet with the physical therapist for a free consultation. Look up the physical therapist on the state board and see if there are any disciplinary actions. If there are any disciplinary actions you can typically find out more online but you may have to request the records. You can do the same for physicians, chiropractors and podiatrists.
Physical therapy: http://www.ptot.texas.gov/page/pt-license-search
Medical Doctors: https://public.tmb.state.tx.us/HCP_Search/SearchNotice.aspx
Next time I will expand on why I think one on one treatment is so important.
If there are any questions feel free to contact me.