10 Questions to Ask Yourself When Looking For a Physical Therapist
by Justine Calderwood, MSPT
Are you currently looking for a physical therapist so you can feel better again or move easier? Is an injury or trauma preventing you from enjoying the things you used to, making you feel tense, sore, or limited in life? Are you worried that if you don't do something about it then things might get worse?
At the Healing Spot Physical Therapy we recognize that you have a choice when it comes to choosing your physical therapist, so we compiled a list of questions that you can ask yourself when choosing a provider. Regardless of which physical therapy clinic your physician or surgeon recommends, it's ultimately your choice to decide who you want to hire to help you return to your active lifestyle.
1. Can I connect with this Physical Therapist (PT)? Picture yourself spending 30-60 minutes of your time each session with the PT you are considering. If you need 10-20 sessions to reach your goal(s), is this someone you want to guide you? Be sure you are comfortable in this person’s presence and feel you could learn from her guidance. Consider if you get along, seem to “mesh well” and have similar ideals when it comes to your healthcare.
2. Does my Physical Therapist listen to me? Your PT should be attentive when you tell him your story and be ready to offer solutions. If it’s important to you that he listen, take notes and ask for further clarification or details, then look for that. Does he encourage you to tell your full story in detail? Your treatment time should be about you and your care. Does your PT remember you and your story from session to session? It’s important that you feel heard and that your needs are addressed, even if it’s simply finding “the spot” of your pain or stiffness.
3. What is the clinic or setting like? Picture yourself in the clinic, on the treatment table, and doing some stretches or exercises. Is it a place that you feel comfortable in? Is it noisy? Are there other distractions that may interfere with your treatment session in terms of being able to connect with the therapist or being able to progress with your healing? Hearing people talk in the other room or out in a gym setting may not bother you….then again, it might. If there are other therapists or people in the clinic it shouldn’t stop your PT from being able to focus on and pay attention to you during your time together.
4. Do I feel comfortable asking this Physical Therapist questions about my particular problem or needs? When you do ask a question you should be satisfied with the answer. If the PT has credibility, meaning you can trust what she is telling you, based on your own knowledge and experiences, then that can leave you with a good feeling that you’re being taken care of.
5. Is this Physical Therapist a good role model for me? Many PTs are dedicated to living what they teach…but not all. Does this person appear to believe in what they teach others? If this PT teaches about exercise and healthy living, do they also live a healthy life so they can guide you?
6. Is this Physical Therapist dedicated to lifelong learning and staying abreast of current information? Does this person value learning new skills or keeping their skills fresh? Do they have the skills necessary to treat my particular condition? Being open to learning and trying new things is a good sign that your PT is dedicated to furthering their skills and staying current, which is in your best interest, as well as theirs. It has been said that therapists can only take their clients as far as they are willing to go; finding a PT who gets out of their comfort zone and is willing to learn is positive for your healing process, because this gives them a variety of “tools” to help you.
7. Does my Physical Therapist value me? Does she genuinely care about me and show compassion toward my healing process? Is she willing to work with me toward my goals? It should be a mutual respect of time and resources when developing your plan of care, scheduling appointments, and interacting with each other.
8. Will I see the same therapist for every visit? If seeing the same therapist for every visit is important to you, then this is an important question to ask. If you won't see the same therapist each time, you may want to consider how well you can picture yourself working with other staff members at the clinic. If you meet the other therapists you can get a chance to decide if they are a good fit for you as well as your primary therapist. Are you given a choice to see one therapist if you would like?
9. Does this Physical Therapist work well with other healthcare and healing professionals? There may be a team of healthcare professionals working with you, depending on the complexity of your situation. If you have chronic or complex pain, a knowledgeable PT should be willing to be part of your team, while serving their own role in your healing process. If you’re needing a recommendation or referral to another professionals, it’s reassuring to know that your PT can help you in the process.
10. What is a typical appointment like? How long is each session and how often will I need to be seen? Ask about the flow of each treatment session. Will time be spent on manual therapy (hands-on therapy) as well as on exercise and education, so you learn what you can do at home to help yourself? How long will each appointment last, and what can you expect at each session? How many appointments does your PT recommend? Does the clinic offer appointment times that fit around your work, school and/or family schedule?
These are great questions to ask when you are seeking a physical therapist’s care, or even concerning your current physical therapist, if you have one. It is okay to ask yourself these questions, as well as the PT you are working with. It demonstrates to yourself and others on your healthcare team that you are invested in your health and value the care and guidance you receive.
This list of questions could even be used when making other health-related decisions, such as when choosing a dentist, counselor or physician. If you aren’t satisfied with the answer to the questions, it’s alright to choose a different provider….the choice is yours.
Justine Calderwood, PT, MSPT, owner and physical therapist at The Healing Spot Physical Therapy, LLC in Woodland Park, CO specializes in helping people with chronic and complex pain, post-trauma and acute injuries feel better and move easier. Justine spends 60 minutes or more of one-on-one time with each person and believes in educating her patients about their condition and what they can do in-between sessions to get the most out of their care. She delivers high-quality hands-on care to help people get back to work, sleep better, enjoy recreational activities and return to an active lifestyle. The Healing Spot Physical Therapy, LLC serves the communities of Woodland Park, Divide, Florissant, Green Mountain Falls, Cascade, Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs, Colorado. Call for your free phone consultation at 719.270.1123.
The materials contained on this website are provided for general information and educational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Healing Spot Physical Therapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation. The information contained in this blog is not intended to diagnosis, cure, treat or prevent any disease.
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