A physical therapist is someone with the medical training required to diagnosis patients and determine the best course of treatment. Many therapists treat those recovering from sports injuries, but the therapist can also offer assistance after you receive an injury at home or on the job. Your therapist must have a graduate degree or an advanced degree in the field, but you also need to look at other factors when choosing a physical therapist. Students studying physical therapy learn skills and techniques that they can use with patients, but a good physical therapist will also have some personality and character traits learned after working with patients. The ingredients that make a therapist include a good bedside manner, willingness to work with various people, and proper credentials and licenses.
1) Find Someone You’re Comfortable With
Your comfort level is the most important factor when it comes to finding a physical therapist. The best physical therapist is someone who puts your needs first and ensures that you are satisfied with the work done. Take a look around the office, see how the therapist reacts around patients, and determine if you feel comfortable with that person. You wouldn’t continue seeing the same doctor if your nervous and worried every time you visited the office, and if you don’t feel comfortable around your therapist, you shouldn’t continue your visits.
2) Physical Therapist Credentials
Before seeking employment as a physical therapist, an individual must have either a doctorate or a master’s degree. Some people working in the field have a bachelor’s degree, but these individuals typically completed the program before an advanced degree was mandatory. You can also look at any advanced credentials the physical therapist has. Advanced credentials require additional coursework and work in the field, and those credentials show that the physical therapist cares about keeping up to date with the newest techniques. If you visit one with a bachelor’s degree, consider asking if the therapist has any additional credentials or experience in the field.
3) Specialized Treatments
Depending on the type of injury you sustain, you might look for a physical therapist with experience in a specific field. One physical therapist might specialize in sports medicine, while another physical therapist could specialize in orthopedics. Sports physical therapy deals with injuries sustained during physical activities, including team sports and charity runs. These therapists can handle both minor and major injuries, including pulled muscles and strained muscles. Orthopedic therapists typically work with patients suffering from joint or bone pain. While your doctor can recommend a therapist with experience in the injury you have, you’ll still want to ask the therapist about issues relating to your specific injury. The best physical therapist is someone who has the skills and equipment necessary to treat your condition and get you back on your feet again.
4) Positive Reviews from Past Patients
When former patients feel confident about the services from their physical therapists, they will often recommend their therapists to others. The best physical therapist might place letters and reviews from former patients on the walls in the office, or the physical therapist might show you recommendations and positive reviews from former patients. If the therapist hesitates when you ask for a recommendation, you might find that the person has something to hide.
5) Comfortable Working with People
Not all medical experts feel as comfortable working with patients as others. If you ever visited a doctor who seemed hesitant and confused, you understand the importance of your doctor feeling comfortable and confident. The best physical therapist is someone who feels confident working around patients of different ages, genders, and backgrounds. Your physical therapist should put the same amount of effort into helping you with your problems as the therapist does with anyone else who walks through the door.
6) Valid Licenses
Would you continue visiting your primary care physician if you learned that your doctor doesn’t have a valid medical license to treat patients in your state? Your physical therapist must have a valid license to practice in the state you reside. If your therapist doesn’t have a copy of a current license hanging on the wall, ask to see a copy of that license. Though you might feel uncomfortable or even a little nervous about asking for that information, it ensures that your physical therapist can work with patients and is necessary when getting coverage for physical therapy insurance.
7) Good Bedside Manner
A good bedside manner is something that you develop over time. When you work with a newer physical therapist, you might notice that he or she is a little nervous when bending and twisting your body. A good bedside manner is different from the confidence and comfort that comes from working with patients. A therapist with years of experience can still appear gruff or angry during sessions. A good bedside manner is especially important when you visit your physical therapist every day or regularly throughout the week, because the way the therapist acts around you can help you feel more comfortable and at ease as you recover from your injury. Working with someone who has a poor bedside manner might make you feel uncomfortable, which can slow down your recovery process.
8) Up to Date on Techniques and Equipment
When visiting a physical therapist, the last thing you want is someone who doesn’t understand how a certain machine works. Some might assume that a license or proper credentials are all that a physical therapist needs, but using a simple piece of equipment in the wrong way can worsen your injury or lead to further injury. The best physical therapist will understand how every machine and piece of equipment in the office works and will also know which machines are best for your injury. Your physical therapist can gain confidence by working with that equipment after office hours and attending lectures and conferences. Ask your physical therapist for a quick tour of the room, and ask questions about how different equipment works and which products you’ll use during your sessions.