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Ask a Physical Therapist: How Do I Find a Good PT I’ll Actually Like?

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In prior blogs, I talked about the importance of having a good physical therapist (PT) on your health care team. I can’t tell you the number of times I meet a new patient who completed physical therapy elsewhere and found it to be ineffective or frustrating. Just last week, I met a new patient who had a 7-year old ankle injury and two rounds of physical therapy with very poor results. She could not safely walk, descend stairs or go hiking for the last 7 years!!! That is not good physical therapy. After one session at our clinic, she already noted improvement.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to be an educated consumer when selecting a physical therapist. Due to health insurance changes, you pay more now for physical therapy than you did a decade ago. That being said, good physical therapy is still the highest value, lowest cost treatment available for orthopedic pain and injury.

A good PT can make all the difference in your recovery and quality of life. And, just like anything else, there’s excellent, good, fair, and poor PT care. If you live in the Portland metro area, call Life’s Work Physical Therapy, a Center of Excellence in orthopedic manual physical therapy. You will get better with us.

For those of you who can’t visit us, here are some questions to ask when looking for a good PT:

  1. Will my physical therapy sessions be 1-on-1 with a physical therapist at every visit?
  2. Will my physical therapist do hands-on treatments?
  3. Will my physical therapist understand how to treat my whole body rather than just my injury?

If the answer is no to any of these questions, keep looking.

Here’s why finding a good PT matters to you:

1. A good PT customizes your treatments based on your body and its problems.

They use one-on-one visit time to solve problems efficiently and thoroughly, constantly evaluating and refining treatments.

Beware of PT clinics where you are supervised in an open gym by lesser-skilled staff for most of your visit, doing “cookie-cutter” exercises.

2. Good physical therapy solves physical problems which typically need hands-on work.

For example, my new ankle patient has tremendous stiffness in her foot, ankle and leg. I need to work on her body to resolve the stiffness. She can’t do it on her own. Good PTs give hands-on care when appropriate.

Beware of PT clinics that do not offer hands-on treatment as a standard part of care.

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3. To achieve long term results, good physical therapy addresses ALL the problems, not just the specific problem area.

So often, we see patients whose prior care was incomplete. My new ankle patient has significant chronic problems at her ankle, which altered how she walks. She has problems now in her knee, hip, pelvis and lower back.

Beware of clinics that do not look at the big picture of how you move and correct all problem areas.

Finding an excellent PT is one of the best investments in your health. Do your research and be informed when choosing a PT. By the time you finish care with a good PT, you will be an expert in how to manage your body.

If you or a loved one needs physical therapy, contact Life’s Work Physical Therapy, where our team spends every visit with you, solves the root cause of your problems and integrates hands-on care with your plan. The more complex your problem, the more we enjoy solving it!

Best of luck!
Sandra

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