One size fits all? Part 1: How to choose the best PT for you

I’ll never forget talking with a good friend who was looking for a physical therapist a few years ago.  His doctor had given him a few local names but he wasn’t sure how to choose.  So, he picked up the phone and started calling.  But, he wasn’t calling to schedule an appointment…he was calling to interview the therapists!   At the time, I remember laughing and him and his surprise when I told him pre-interviewing a physical therapist wasn’t a common practice, however I now understand why he felt the need.

So…

How do you choose a physical therapist?

Is the list your doctor hands you the best guide?

Is Yelp the place to go to find the right fit for you?

1. Trust the testimonials of family, friends, coworkers, and other healthcare practitioners.  Ask for their recommendation of whom they would visit should they or a loved one need physical therapy.  Many people have had a previous experience with a physical therapist.  Some remain loyal patrons of one practitioner, while others have been treated at multiple clinics, by several different therapists.   Read review sites with an open mind.  Many times, negative reviews focus on billing misunderstandings or office policies

2. Understand a PT’s credentials.  Most consumers have no idea what the letters behind the therapist’s name mean. Don’t be fooled by the number of certifications and credentials listed after your therapist’s name—they often little to do with the quality of the therapist.

3. Establish a rapport. You’re going to be spending a quite a bit of time with your therapist, so it’s helpful to get along, while maintaining a professional relationship of mutual respect.  You should feel that your PT is listening to your concerns and involves you in the goal setting process.  It is great to find a PT who has similar interests as you, but if they don’t, they should at least be willing to understand the demands of the activities that you enjoy.  Although I’m a runner, swimmer, and cyclist, I have treated fencers, ballet dancers, surfers, and hockey players.  If you don’t connect with your therapist after the first couple of visits, it’s reasonable to consider involving another in your treatment.

So now you’ve chosen your therapist and begun treatment.  When you’re ready to compose a testimonial, what will you write?

Stay tuned for steps to determine if you chose wisely in: One size fits all?  Part 2: What makes a good PT?  Aren’t all therapists the same?

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