By Lenae Sexton, PT, DPT, OCS
In a culture plagued with choices, it is often difficult to know what qualities to even consider when making a choice. This is especially true of physical therapy – your choices are many, particularly here in the South Bay. So what should you consider when choosing a physical therapist? Here is a list of 10 things that we think are critical indicators of a good clinician.
1. You work directly with your physical therapist during your entire appointment rather than support staff or aides. I realize I may be stepping on some toes here and I am okay with that. It is critical to your recovery that their skilled eyes and ears are actively present in order to make corrections to your movements, progress appropriately, and prescribe your specific (and changing) home program.
2. On the first visit the therapist performs a thorough yet concise evaluation and follows it with a discussion of your problem. You should walk away knowing what tissue was injured and the possible/likely cause(s).
3. Your movement is assessed. Physical therapists are (or should be) movement experts and is where significant information is collected regarding your condition, possible causes, and necessary interventions. Your therapist should observe – and when necessary take video – of your movement in order to get a complete picture of how to best help you.
4. Your therapist communicates a clear plan of action. This plan of action includes types of treatments, how long you will be working together and at what frequency, and expected recovery status. You need to be on the same page in regards to expectations.
5. Clear goals are developed. Short term goals are important to help keep you focused and motivated. Long term goals are important so you both know the end game.
6. You are prescribed home exercises to facilitate progress AND you understand how they are going to help you reach your goals. These should be clearly communicated so that you know exactly what to do. Whether they are typed, written, or e-mailed, you should have something to reference once you get home.
7. Any equipment recommendations and guidance on where to get them. With so many options on the market, it is your therapist’s responsibility to guide you to what is the most appropriate for you.
8. Referrals to other medical providers when necessary. A good physical therapist will give you specific recommendations (or choices) based on your particular presentation so that you do not have to resort to the “luck of the draw.”
9. You are given adequate time to discuss your concerns and questions. Your therapist should probe you for questions and concerns in order to facilitate good communication. Oftentimes discussion can be just as therapeutic as physical interventions because of the clarity that is developed.
10. Timely responses to phone calls, e-mails, texts, or any other forms of communication used between appointments. There will likely be times when you have a time sensitive question or concern outside of your appointment times. While therapists have big caseloads and busy days, it is fair to expect some sort of acknowledgement of communication within 48 hours.
The above items are things that we focus on at Positive Energy. Our goal is to provide you superior care so that you can enjoy the lifestyle that you love; you can count on our efforts being consistent and persevering in this pursuit!