If you’re seeking physical therapy, you’re usually motivated by a desire to get rid of aches, pains or getting back to living your life and doing the things you love. . Maybe you’re even looking for an alternate route than surgery.
Your problem could be due to an accident, illness, injury, or recovery from surgery. Regardless of the cause, your number one goal is to get back to “normal.” You want to feel like you did “before.”
But what happens if your experience at a physical therapy clinic doesn’t meet your expectations? As you probably guessed, it can adversely affect your healing process. This situation often happens in a “big box” practice where physical therapy involves offering patients a one-size-fits-all treatment plan instead of individual and personal care.
In this article, we’ll outline what’s common in the industry and why seeking out personalized physical therapy is a better option for your recovery. Understanding personalized PT and its value in five key areas can help you make the best choices for your health.
Difference 1: The Amount of Time Spent with Patients
It seems like health care providers across the board are looking to cut costs, starting with the amount of time spent with a patient. Personalized physical therapy can’t be done if you only interact with the physical therapist for 10 minutes.
In order to truly discover what problem you have, why it’s going on in the first place, and create a plan to keep it from coming back, you’re going to need more time with your physical therapy provider.
Difference 2: The Appointment Agenda
A physical therapist who lacks skills or is being pressured to boost the bottom line of a practice may give you the same set of exercises week in and week out, leaving you alone to do them while they assist other clients.
In the personalized physical therapy space, this is a no-no. It is not helpful for you to sit by yourself in a room and do exercises that could be done at home. Rather, a professional physical therapist will ensure that your appointment is focused on your treatments.
Your physical therapy appointment could include a combination of the following:
– A discussion of your health history and goals
– Demonstrations of how to do specific movements
– Advice on lifestyle accommodations and strategies to prevent injuries
– Hands-on assistance
– Situation-specific exercises
Difference 3: The Focus of the Appointment
A rushed physical therapy provider in a big box setting may be singularly focused on addressing your pain symptoms only.
The problem with this approach is that it lacks a holistic strategy to improve your overall life. Are you trying to strengthen a muscle group for a specific reason? Is there an event coming up that you’d like to attend, but you’re currently unable?
In addition to shifting the focus of the appointment to you, the patient, the best clinicians realize the importance of treating you like a person with real goals and desires, not just a person in pain.
Difference 4: The Ability to Change Course
A big box clinic usually has specific treatment plans in mind, and those plans tend to be unwavering. With personalized physical therapy, the patient experience is the top priority. Instead of digging right into what’s on the agenda, a therapist might ask you questions like:
– “How are you feeling today?” (And they’ll genuinely mean it!)
– “Has anything changed since your last appointment?”
– “Is there anything you feel that we could be doing better?”
– “Do you feel like you’re making adequate progress and your goals are being met?”
Though having a detailed plan is a must, it’s also important to be able to recognize when things need to shift to give patients the best possible chance of a full recovery.
Difference 5: The Commitment to Educational Excellence
Physical therapists are all required to engage in continuing education to maintain the licenses of their profession. However, those who are passionate about their calling take CE hours because they want to, not because they have to.
Staying up to date on the development of new treatment and therapy options is the goal of continuing education, but physical therapists can also dedicate time to learning about the latest health care research. They may choose to gain further knowledge and training about patient communication and innovative approaches to dealing with pain.
Choosing the Right Physical Therapist
Now that you know the signs to look out for, you’ll be better equipped to choose a physical therapist who is best suited to address your injury. And, if you’re already a physical therapy patient, you’ll understand what red flags might prompt you to find a new clinic.