Not All Physical Therapists Are Created Equal

Dr. Nelli Ban, PT, DPT
PT SkepticsGoogle

NOT ALL PHYSICAL THERAPISTS and PT CLINICS ARE CREATED EQUAL. If you think all physical therapists are made equal or that every facility provides excellent outcomes, you're wrong.

Physical therapists are certified professionals that work with individuals who are suffering from joint injuries, back pain, hip pain, knee pain, foot pain, osteoporosis, arthritis, musculoskeletal conditions, and other mobility issues. To practice as a certified therapist, individuals must complete years of education and training. Each state has regulations and stringent standards and procedures for treating patients.

So what makes physical therapists/clinics different from one another?

1. DPTs, PTs, PTAs and aides.

Physical Therapy Aides / Physical Therapy Assistants are commonly used for treatment with patients. This is essentially like visiting a paralegal for important legal advice or visiting a bookkeeper for essential tax advice.

At many clinics, physical therapists have to treat up to 30-40 patients a day, seeing each patient for roughly 15-20 minutes only and delegating the therapy portion of the session to an assistant or aide to complete. From our experience, 30 minutes of one-on-one treatment time with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (not a PTA or aide) is sufficient time to assess your condition and improve you throughout each session.

2. Individualized program

A good physical therapist should be able to obtain the most accurate diagnosis to help you recover from your injury/ health issues. Only then, they can design a treatment plan tailored to meet your specific needs and goals.

Once you've had your initial appointment, you and your PT will work out a treatment plan that includes a realistic outlook on the future and a timeline for recovery.

Physical therapy's goal is to not only treat the symptoms but also identify the root cause and avoid recurrence.

3. It's more than just a list of exercises.

Have you ever left a physical therapy facility thinking, "I've got this!" only to return dubious and unmotivated at your next session?

Next to education, this is of the utmost importance: YOUR PHYSICAL THERAPIST SHOULD MAKE YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE.

Physical therapists should take their time to listen to your concerns, answer your questions (and ensure you understand them) and then consult with you to determine your best treatment option for your health issues.

4. Frequency and waiting time.

You’re in pain. Your MD referred you to their in-house physical therapy clinic. How long do you have to wait to be accommodated? And once you’re booked, will you be getting the right frequency to speed up your recovery?

In your search for physical therapy, keep these points in mind.

At the end of the day, it’s not just what’s near to your home/workplace. It’s also about getting the right frequency and duration for patient visits. After all, the reason why you seek physical therapy intervention is because you can no longer tolerate that nagging pain and you probably have difficulty in performing your everyday activities.

Getting treatment should not be delayed. It will only prolong the pain and would make it even worse.

5. Value.

It is common for people to believe that going in-network, even if it is to a hospital-based group, will save them money, only to discover that a hospital-based group has a higher contracted rate, and thus an in-network session there may cost you 3-5 times as much as a session at a private practice.

Are you willing to give physical therapy a try?

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Aims to provide informative articles, medical views and health tips for patients suffering from musculoskeletal conditions, joint injuries, needing help with relief from chronic pain, osteoporosis, arthritis, and certain cancer-related complications.


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