Choosing a physical therapist is a personal decision and one that shouldn’t be made in haste. One of the best ways to locate a therapist is by asking family, friends, co-workers or primary care physician for recommendations. An online search can also be conducted or visit the American Physical Therapy Association website.
While all physical therapists are highly trained and educated professionals, some choose to specialize in specific areas of expertise. Some physical therapists specialize in all aspects of pregnancy related needs, while others choose to concentrate on sports injuries, rehabilitation for stroke or accident victims, pediatrics, neurology or geriatrics. It’s important that patients select a physical therapist that has experience in their particular condition.
Try to schedule a consultation with the physical therapist(s) that are being considered. Patients should feel comfortable with their physical therapist, be able to ask questions and talk with them freely about their condition and treatment. Having a rapport with the physical therapist is critical for effective treatment.
A physical therapist may choose to operate their practice where they devote their entire time to one patient at a time. Others work with two to three patients at the same time within the same time frame. Depending upon the nature of the individual’s condition and preference, a patient may opt for one choice over the other. Another important consideration is if the patient will see the same therapist for each appointment.
One of the biggest complaints that patients have is that their medical provider doesn’t really listen to them. Physical therapists may have a preference for certain treatments, but the therapist should be willing to listen, be open to other options, and willing to alter therapies to meet the needs of the patient.
Every patient should consider the following when choosing a physical therapist.
- Is the physical therapist licensed
- Are physical therapist assistants licensed/certified
- Is the therapist experienced in the patient’s condition if a special need exists
- Accepts the patient’s insurance
- Is the therapist in the insurance company’s network
- Submits insurance claims
- Offers discounts or pay-in-full programs
When patients are exploring their physical therapy options, it’s important to factor in the location of the practice and its hours. The clinic should be conveniently located to the patient’s home or work when appointments are needed. The hours of operation are equally important. Those who work multiple jobs or the night shift may need early morning, late evening, or weekend appointments.
Patients should examine the therapist’s cancellation policy. Some practices charge a fee for a missed or cancelled appointment and the cost may be significant. Individuals should also pay special attention to how easy it is to obtain an appointment. Pain and injuries respond better when they’re treated promptly.
Your physical therapist will have an array of treatments that may be employed to ease pain, heal injuries and rehabilitate. Both passive and active methods are available. Passive treatments such as ultrasound will make you feel better, but they shouldn’t be the only therapies used. Treatment should include manual therapies administered by the therapist or his/her licensed assistant.
Even after you’ve selected your therapist, pay attention to billing and the way claims are filed. Claims should be submitted promptly and the practice’s billing department should be willing to speak with you should an error occur. Patients shouldn’t be surprised with a bill six months after the treatment was provided.
Your musculoskeletal and neurological health is in the hands of your physical therapist and he/she should be someone with which you feel comfortable. Physical therapists can help you with pain relief, healing and rehabilitation of an extensive array of injuries and chronic conditions. Choose wisely for a lifetime of mobility.