Find a GOOD Physical Therapist
At Rezac and Associates Physical Therapy we aim to raise the standard of physical therapy through our practice and commitment to physical therapy education. We realize we may not be the most convenient location for everyone, but want everyone to have a good physical therapy experience. Our intention is to educate people seeking physical therapy on what to look for and what to avoid.
Not all physical therapists or physical therapy practices are the same. In fact, there is a great number out there who are simply adequate and some that might actually make your condition worse. These therapists lower the public perception of physical therapy. If you are considering physical therapy or have been to physical therapy and did not have very good results, keep reading, this is for you.
The field of medicine, and thus physical therapy, is changing fast. The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) is becoming the standard. Any physical therapist graduating school today must at least have a Master's Degree (MPT), but those who entered the field with a BS were grandfathered in. Not to say the degree is the most deciding factor. There are a couple of variables. The therapists who graduated with a DPT, and some with an MPT, have been trained in differential diagnosis of musculoskeletal conditions. Meaning they can determine if your shoulder pain is likely due to a rotator cuff problem, impingement, tendonitis or labral tear by a series of special tests and movement patterns. Keep in mind, a new graduate, is still a new graduate and lacks the clinical skill of a seasoned therapist. When looking at a therapist with a BS or even MPT if they have been out of school awhile, check to see if they have kept up with current practice as we will discuss below.
Bottom line, many therapists are using outdated practices, lack manual skill, and do very little continuing education. There are a lot of outstanding therapists out there and our goal is to educate the lay person on how to find one. You do have a choice with your care and you don't have to go to someone just because your doctor referred you or their name is on the prescription for therapy. Often times, the referral is made by a referral coordinator based on who is convenient or happens to have been in that office frequently, not your doctor.
So how do you find a GOOD physical therapist? We have linked you to the direct search option for each of these sites to begin your search.
- Check their License - make sure it is valid and to check for claims against it with the state licensure board, for Colorado that is CO Dept of Regulatory Affairs. You can also use this same search database to find a licensed therapist in your area or look up any other medical professional in the state of Colorado.
- Check their Affiliations - to see if they are proactive and progressive in their field by being members of our professional organizations. One major organization that will indicate this is if they are a member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), note there is a symbol next to their name if they are board certified. Other organizations that show that the therapist keeps up on current practices are AAOMPT and NSCA.
- Check for Board Certification - you can also search specifically to see if they are Board Certified . There are a very small number of these, but to have this designation, one must complete a rigorous examination for their specialty. There are certifications for Orthopedics (OCS), Neurological (NCS), Sports (SCS), Pediatrics (PCS), Geriatrics (GCS), Cardiovascular / Pulmonary (CCS), Electrophysiology (ECS). You can narrow your search by specialty as well Board Certified Physical Therapists.
- Other Specialties - Most therapists will not meet all of these criteria because there are so many ways to be a skilled therapist. Some others you might see are the designation of CMT - certified manual therapist, CSCS - certified strength & conditioning specialist. Ask what all those letters after the therapists name mean. Also, therapists who have some of the designations and memberships discussed may not be on the website if it is one that required them to go on and post a profile.
- Recommendations - Ask for recommendations from friends and family who were COMPLETELY SATISFIED with their therapy.
- Google Them. Most practices have a website where you can get a detailed biography on an individual therapist and you can find out things like additional teachings or writings. Not all really good therapists are on the web, so don't necessarily discount them if you don't find them.
- Consult with the Therapist - You can call the clinic and ask to talk to the therapist before your first visit. Many therapists will either do a phone or in-person consult to see if you are an appropriate candidate for therapy and if they are the right therapist for you.
So, now you have started your therapy. These are the things you should look for:
- Does your therapist perform a full evaluation, find out your goals and explain your condition and course of treatment to you?
- Do you see the same therapist every time, or even two therapists? Three or more, there is not much consistency in care.
- Do they use manual therapy techniques or hands on care moving your joints and soft tissue?
- Do they teach you proper ergonomics (what positions to avoid and which ones to do) and how to take care of your body for your condition including a home program?
- Are you comfortable with the sessions and your therapist and do you feel like you are improving? Keep in mind, pain follows function, so you may not note an immediate improvement in symptoms, but should be able to initially move better and do a little more as you go along.
- Does your therapist discuss your progress with you? Do they tell you what you have improved with and what you still need to work on?
All medical professionals are not the same. Just as you would check out the mechanic or child care worker you are wanting to do business with, I encourage everyone to know their healthcare providers whether it is a doctor, surgeon, physical therapist, chiropractor, nutritionist or any other medical professional. Too often we assume that because they have a medical license they are skilled. You only have one chance to be wrong when it is YOUR body. YOU make the CHOICE!