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  • Rusty Jenkins, DPT

What Should I Look for in a Physical Therapist?

Whether we are an Absolute Physical Specimen (APS), a Weekend Warrior, a Channel Surfer, or just an Average Joe (or Jane)…at some point in our lives, we will have to go see our local physical therapist because some part of our body has decided to start hurting. This is usually due to us getting (cough, cough) older or sustaining an injury. In either case…this totally throws a wrench in our plans and our lives! Man…I don’t have time to go to therapy 2-3 times a week! My insurance sucks! My co-pay is more than my weekly Mountain Dew allowance! Maybe if I just wait it out…my body will heal itself. Sounds great…but doesn’t usually work that way. You need help, but you don’t want to go to a place that won’t help you get back to what you love to do. So…here is the hot topic of the day: Where should I go for therapy? How do I know that I am getting the absolute best care I can get? When should I start to question whether I am getting what I need from my physical therapist? Here is my list of things you should keep in mind or ask about before choosing a physical therapist.

1) What are your specialties or what sets you apart from other therapists? – Almost every physical therapist out there will tell you that they are “specialists” in many areas of therapy. This is not true! Ask the therapist to tell you some of the continuing education courses they have attended. Do they have any certifications in a specialized area of therapy? Have they taken any other tests to improve their skills?

2) What is your treatment approach? – Does your physical therapist treat all back pain patients the same, regardless of their diagnosis or their pain presentation? Do they re-assess each patient frequently so that they can make the necessary adjustments to the treatment plan? If the patient continues to have pain, is the physical therapist able to decide whether the patient is safe to continue with therapy or might need to be referred to a physician for further testing?

3) What will be expected of me (as the patient?) – What will be my co-pay? How much will I owe out-of-pocket for each visit? What do I need to be prepared to do to get back to my life? How long do you think I will need to come to therapy?

The ultimate goal of any physical therapy treatment should be getting you Back To Life as quickly as possible…but not before your body is ready. Your physical therapist should treat you as an individual…with individual problems…that need individual care. Don’t settle for anything less. YOU DO HAVE A CHOICE! Don’t simply go to the therapist your doctor tells you to go to. Do your research. Find a therapist that you feel comfortable with…even if it takes you 5 more minutes of drive time to get to their office.

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