How to Choose the Best Physical Therapist For YOU

Finding a physical therapist is easy, but choosing the right one for you isn’t so easy.

 

So you decided that physical therapy is right for you, but now you want to know how to go about finding the best therapist for your specific needs.  Like most other people, you have no idea how to do this and would like some help.

Well, you shouldn’t just choose one without doing some homework first – after all, it’s your health on the line (not to mention your valuable time and money too).

What’s so important about getting this decision right – the right PT can relate to you on a personal level, help you understand why you are in pain, provide you with a clear plan on how to fix the problem, and give you high-quality treatments/education that get you back to doing the things you love to do…and the wrong PT, simply put, can be a waste of your valuable time and money.

Understand It’s Your Choice

The first thing I want to remind you is that YOU HAVE A CHOICE as to where you go and what therapist you see.  You shouldn’t blindly go somewhere just because your doctor, friend, or your insurance told you to.

Doctors Don’t Always Have Your Best Interests In Mind

This might be hard for some people to hear, but many times (admittedly, not all the time), physicians will refer you to certain clinics because of a personal relationship they have with them, not necessarily because it would be the best fit FOR YOU.  Maybe a PT clinic bought lunch for the doctor that day and that’s why the doctor is sending you to them…you’d be naïve to think that doesn’t happen.

Think about it this way, can a doctor truly understand what you want & need in the 3 minutes they spend with you!?

And I’m not saying to ignore what doctor’s tell you, just that you shouldn’t blindly follow their advice. Rather, take it into consideration and do your own research.

Friends and family have different injuries, values, schedules, etc.

So your friend told you about a clinic he/she went to and liked it.  Maybe that clinic turns out to be a good fit for you, but maybe it doesn’t.  And the only research you did beforehand was ask a friend, so that bad decision is basically on you.

Odds are you have a different injury and personal goals than your friend/relative, so what worked for them may not work for you.  They might have just wanted to be able to go for a walk without pain, but you want to get back to your boot camp workouts.  And the quiet, spa-like clinic worked for them but you’re looking for more of a performance center atmosphere.

Using Your Insurance May Not Be the Best Option

We can all agree that medical coverage isn’t what it used to be.  With the constantly increasing co-pays, deductibles, premiums, etc, healthcare consumers are more conscious about the healthcare they seek and place more value on the type of care/treatment they get.  It’s not uncommon for people to have $50 co-pays and deductibles in the thousands of dollars, which ultimately means they’re paying out-of-pocket for the treatment they got – even though they have insurance.

Privately paying for your treatment typically provides a higher quality treatment because the therapist is not limited or dictated by what the insurance tells them they can (or can’t) do.  Ultimately, this means the patient saves valuable time and money in the long run. 

And since insurance companies have been reimbursing PT clinics less and less over the years, the only way for them to stay profitable is to see more and more patients….which means the quality of care and time spent with patients gets less and less.  Remember that your co-pay is the same regardless of how much time a therapist spends with you – whether it be 10 minutes (like most typical clinics) or 60 minutes (how we do things at Modern Sports PT).

And maybe that’s ok with you…but maybe it’s not.  I just want to make you aware of the changing landscape of physical therapy and medical insurance and how it can affect the type of treatment you get.

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What to Look For In Your Physical Therapist

I highly recommend you speak with a potential physical therapist over the phone or in person to discuss your injury, concerns, or any other questions you have before committing to seeing them.  If a clinic doesn’t allow you to speak to a therapist before committing to them, I would move on to the next one. 

For example, at my clinic I offer FREE phone consultations (~15 minutes) for people to discuss their current problem, concerns, options, etc.  I've found that people really appreciate getting to know me and what I can (or can't) do for them - this way they can get a better idea of what their options are.  And for some people, I'll even take it a step further and offer a FREE 15-20 minute in-person consultation. 

Someone Who Treats You Like a Person and Not Just a Medical Patient

I’m well aware that in the medical world, people often get treated like a diagnosis or just another number…and it drives me crazy.  Many times, healthcare clinics will ask you for your name, your insurance, and date of birth and never actually have a conversation with you.  That's why one of our core values at Modern Sports PT is "people first, patients second."

You should want a therapist who doesn’t talk over your head in medical terms and just checks you off their list.  You want someone who will talk to you in a way that you can understand, talk about your kids/weekend/etc, and who you feel comfortable with.

Find a Therapist Who Specializes In Your Type of Injury

Just like any other job, there are lots of good therapists out there and lots of bad ones out there.  Some therapists are good at treating your particular injury and some aren’t.  I have no problem telling people that I wouldn’t be the best fit for them and will gladly refer you to someone who can help you.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case with all therapists.  Some places/therapists will try to treat all types of patients and this usually means that end up being mediocre at treating those things and not giving you the specialist treatment you were looking for.

For example, if someone asked me if I could help their 70 year old mother improve their balance, I would not be the best option for them and I would refer them to someone else who could treat them more effectively.  But, if a high school athlete twisted their ankle and wants to get back to playing lacrosse ASAP, that’s the type of thing I specialize in.

Questions To Ask Your Potential Therapist When Speaking With Them

There are plenty of questions to ask, but here are what I consider to be the most important ones:

1. What type of person comes to your clinic?

2. What types of injuries do you specialize in treating?

3. How many patients are scheduled in an hour? Or how frequently do you book patients?

Don’t ask how long an appointment lasts because a majority of that time could spent on your own or with less qualified support staff. The better question to ask is how many patients are scheduled in an hour so you know how much one-on-one time will be spent with your therapist and how many patients they could be juggling at once

4. How much 1-on-1 time do you get with them?

As I mentioned above, your therapist may very well be juggling 3-5 different patients at once. You will pay the same co-pay if you see the therapist for 1 hour or for 10-15 minutes.  If they tell you that you will get more one-on-one time than how often they schedule appointments, they’re lying to you.

5. Do you have any specialist certifications?

Specialists exist for a reason...they're better at what they do than a "generalist."  If you have a specific type of injury or certain activities you'd like to get back to, then find someone who specializes in that area - you'll get a better treatment and results.

Arrange a FREE Phone Conversation with a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Physical Therapy

 

Remember it's...Your health.  Your time.  Your money.  Your choice.

I hope this article helps you make the best choice for who you choose to be your physical therapist and if you have any more questions, feel free to reach out to me at dennis@modernsportspt.com