Finding a physical therapist can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not sure where to start. Physical therapy is a form of medical treatment used to relieve pain, strengthen weak muscles, and improve functional mobility. It is a versatile therapy that can treat a wide range of conditions, both acute and chronic, and can be done in different settings, such as a hospital, a rehabilitation clinic, a private practice, or even at home. With so many options, it’s essential to know how to find the best physical therapist for your specific needs. In this article, we’ll provide expert advice on how to find a good physical therapist and what to consider when making your choice.
What to Consider When Choosing a Physical Therapist
Your Physical Therapy Needs
The type of physical therapy you need will determine the kind of therapist you should look for. If you’re unable to leave your home, you’ll need an in-home physical therapist. If you need specialized treatment, such as sport medicine, pelvic floor physical therapy, or geriatric care, you’ll need to find a specialist.
Your healthcare provider can recommend a physical therapist based on your condition or injury. You can also ask friends or family members for referrals to practitioners they trust. Dr. Rebecca Switzer, a physical therapist and co-owner of Neuro Base Camp in Portland, Oregon, suggests that you meet the therapist in person to see if they’re a good fit for your needs. Honesty, empathy, compassion, and humor are some qualities that may not be evident until you have an in-person visit.
Your Physical Therapist’s Credentials
Licensure and credentialing are important when it comes to finding a skilled physical therapist. All therapists must have graduated from a doctorate of physical therapy program, passed the National Physical Therapy Examination, and obtained licensure in the state in which they practice. A physical therapist can also earn additional credentials by specializing in an area of expertise within the field, such as sport medicine, geriatrics, neurology, or women’s health. Of all these sports medicine is probably the most lucrative as there is a huge demand for physical therapists to help athletes. Professional athletes depend on being in peak physical condition for their livelihoods and are normally backed by their teams as well as sponsors. That means a physical therapist will need to be well credentialled in a competitive field to earn that kind of money.
Specialized Physical Therapists
Working with a specialized physical therapist may help you achieve the best outcome, depending on your condition or injury. Physical therapists can specialize in 10 different areas of expertise recognized by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). To be considered a specialist, the therapist must have at least 2,000 hours of clinical experience in their chosen field or complete an accredited post-graduate residency program and pass an additional examination.
Your location is another important factor to consider when choosing a physical therapist. If driving or prolonged sitting aggravates your condition or injury, find a nearby physical therapist’s office. If leaving your home is difficult, look for an at-home physical therapist.
Insurance Coverage and Budget
Before you choose a physical therapist, double-check if physical therapy is covered by your insurance plan. Also, not all states allow direct access to physical therapy, so you need to verify if it’s available in your state by visiting the APTA website.
Additional Tips for Finding the Best Physical Therapist
Cultivating a healthy and professional relationship with your physical therapist is vital to achieving your therapeutic goals. You should feel comfortable with your therapist, and they should be willing to listen to your concerns and develop a treatment plan that works for you.
You should also consider the physical therapist’s experience, education, and areas of expertise. Look for a therapist who has experience treating similar conditions to yours, and who has been trained in the latest techniques and treatments.
Finally, don’t be afraid to shop around and meet with several therapists before making a decision. Your health matters and it’s important to make the most informed decision you can.