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What To Expect From Physical Therapy

What You Should Expect from Your Physical Therapist

This is the second part of a two-part blog on both what you as a patient can do to make therapy more beneficial as well as what you should expect from your physical therapy or your physical therapist.  For physical therapy to be successful, you have to be actively engaged as a patient.  You will not get better with the attitude of “fix me.”  Agreed, you have to have a competent physical therapist to evaluate you and provide you with a comprehensive treatment plan to address your impairments and functional limitations.  However, as a patient, there are things you need to be doing as well – remember, you may only be in physical therapy for an hour or so a few days a week.  That’s a lot of time outside of physical therapy that you have to take some responsibility!  Nevertheless, in this blog, we want to focus on what you should expect from the facility you get physical therapy as well as from your physical therapist.

  • Hands-on attention.  You should have a physical therapist that does more than just hold a chart.  They should get their hands on you, either with manual therapy techniques or cueing you when you do your exercises.  Your PT should not be a “glorified personal trainer.”
  • A warm, friendly atmosphere.  Physical therapy can be a long process, particularly if you had surgery.  You should enjoy coming to therapy and look forward to it!
  • Not to be passed around from therapist to therapist.  It makes continuity of care difficult and makes building a rapport tough as well.
  • Your condition & treatment explained to you.  A competent physical therapist knows your condition and how to put it in words you can understand.  They also will have a plan in place right away to get you to your goals.
  • An evidence-based approach.  How will you know that?  Not only should they tell you what the research has shown us, but if they are using an evidence-based approach, you should see results.
  • A comprehensive home program.  Your home program is more than exercises. It should involve education about posture, ergonomics, and pain management strategies.
  • Your condition may get worse before it gets better.  This is a tough one for people to understand, but as we start to treat your condition, we may aggravate it a bit.  It should turn around quickly however.
  • You won’t be better overnight, but you should see positive trends quickly.   It drives us crazy when people have physical therapy elsewhere for months on end.  You should see positive trends in your pain or function within a couple weeks.  If not, you might consider a new physical therapist.
  • You may not get 100% relief 100% of the time.   Pain doesn’t necessarily equate to injury.  Sometimes, it’s just your body saying “please get out of this position!”  A good example of this is sitting too long.  Your back hurts because your brain is telling your back “Hey! Get up and move a little!”
  • If symptoms don’t improve, we will refer you to the appropriate care.  Your physical therapist shouldn’t drag out care if you aren’t getting better.  A thorough examination should provide them what they need to determine if you need a referral to a physician.
  • Your physical therapist to listen to you.

Many people choose their physical therapist based on whoever is close to work or home.  While that is understandable, there is different levels of quality in physical therapy, just like any other business.  If you are not experiencing what is listed above, you should consider switching physical therapy facilities.  You should expect more from your health care providers and you deserve only the best.  It would be a privilege to serve you, please give us a call!