Whether you’ve been injured in an accident or have been suffering from a chronic illness, physical therapy can be a game-changer. The difference between PT and several other forms of treatment (e.g. drugs or surgery) is that PT requires a lot of work and active participation on the part of the patient. Reaching the patient’s physical therapy goals is a journey that patient and therapist will make together, and at-home exercises are often a vital part of the process. If the patient doesn’t keep up with the therapy regimen at home, as instructed by the PT, the healing results will be come much more slowly.
That said, finding a skilled and reputable physical therapist is a huge determining factor to your success. There are many stories (you can read them on popular review sites like Yelp or Google) of PTs who didn’t do their job correctly, either because they weren’t trained properly or because they simply don’t exhibit a high level of professionalism. On the other hand, there are a lot of wonderful reviews indicating fully qualified and effective physical therapists. Web sites also vary significantly, so the question is, what should you look for in a PT?
1. Experience matters
It takes years to become a fully qualified and skilled physical therapist with a good amount of field experience. Obviously, there are some very skilled PTs out there who have just entered the field, and you should rule out working with them – but generally speaking, it’s a good idea to look for a PT who is experienced and knows what a successful (or unsuccessful) course of therapy looks like.
2. Not all training is equal
Where did your PT receive his or her education and training? This is a very important question, and you should be afraid to ask it. This is a highly specialized field that requires rigorous study and long hours of practice in the field. Feeling confident about your PT’s educational background is an important asset in your healing journey.
3. Look for negative reviews
We’re not trying to be negative here – and positive reviews are always great to read. They’re an important indicator of a good physical therapist. But negative reviews are even more important. According to some researchers, people tend to read negative reviews more often. That’s because they want to avoid professionals (including physical therapists) who make mistakes with clients and don’t do anything to make the situation right. There are, of course, situations in which patients are simply frustrated that the results weren’t faster – but again, physical therapy is a ‘team sport.’
4. Personality matters
Personality is a hugely underrated aspect of physical therapy. When you find a PT that makes you feel at ease, and that really seems to care about your healing and progress, it makes a big difference. This is where a sense of teamwork comes in, that the two of you together can achieve your physical therapy goals with persistence and determination. If your PT seems disinterested or flippant about your experience and your results, it certainly doesn’t make things easier for you.