What is a Physical Therapist?
A physical therapist or PT is a professional, who went to school and holds a degree in the field of physical therapy. A physical therapist is also required to be authorized and licensed by the state in which he or she practices. Some physical therapists were athletic trainers first, and then progressed to become a licensed physical therapist. You may find physical therapists with various degrees ranging from a bachelor’s to doctoral degrees, in either Art or Science.
Physical Therapist Types
The type of physical therapist you select will be based on your specific needs and/or instructions from your physician. Traditional physical therapists are generalists and are able to treat all patients. Specialty physical therapists focus their practice on specific area of treatments: Orthopedic, Neurologic, Pediatric, Geriatric, Vestibular, etc.
The quality of both traditional physical therapists and specialty physical therapists can vary, as is true of any health professional.
- High quality physical therapists will focus on the identified health problem of their patient, both the symptoms and the sources. They will deliver treatments that holistically address the patient’s specific issue, resulting in long term improvement of the overall health of the patient. High quality physical therapists work hard to identify and treat the source of the health issue, and are often able to resolve chronic or reoccurring problems that have been unsatisfactorily treated in the past.
- Good quality physical therapists will focus on the identified health problem of their patient. They will deliver treatments that address the patient’s specific issue, as identified by the referring physician or insurance company, resulting in improvement of the health problem for the patient.
- Poor quality physical therapists will focus on profits. They will deliver treatments that will maximize payments, and view patients as a source of revenue.
How to Find A Physical Therapist and Make the Best Selection?
As the patient, you will want to maximize the benefits from the physical therapist practice you choose. The key is EDUCATION! Educate yourself and become informed about the physical therapists and their practices that you are considering.
Where to start your search for a physical therapist
- Ask friends, family, coworkers or neighbors where they went for their physical therapy needs? Did they like it? Did they benefit from it?
- Ask your medical professional for a recommendation. Who would they go to, if they needed a physical therapist?
- Identify potential physical therapy practices based upon your location, insurance coverage or other needs.
Next step is to visit the physical therapy practice(s) you are considering. Be observant and ask the questions before you schedule your first appointment:
- Who are the people that will actually be working with me? What is their training? What is their experience?
- How long is a session?
- How frequent do they schedule patients?
- Do they look at the body holistically?
- Do they teach you how to care for yourself and your problem after you are discharged?
Finally, identify the physical therapist’s practice that focuses on top quality patient care, and is dedicated to helping you achieve your end goals:
- Select a physical therapy practice where you can spend quality time with the professional, licensed PT.
- Select a physical therapist that can work on you manually with their hands and to perform therapeutic treatments.
- Select a physical therapy practice that delivered custom treatments, and specialized therapies, that you could not do on your own (i.e. walk on a treadmill).
Remember, you or your insurance company pay good dollars to “fix” your body. Make sure you spend this money wisely, and get the most for your dollars. Your body will thank you.
Read more about the SIPT approach to physical therapy, and how we differ from most other physical therapy facilities http://www.s-i-p-t.com or visit our physical therapy office in Commerce Township, MI.