Do you feel like you could be getting more from your physical therapist? Unsure if you’re working with a good one?
Do you feel disappointed, unsatisfied, or frustrated with how you’ve been treated by your physical therapist?
Keep reading to figure out if you’re in good hands or it’d be better for you to switch physical therapists.
After all, it’s YOUR health, time, and money on the line.
And we should make it clear that all physical therapists are not the same – some good, some bad (just like every other profession). Also, one therapist could be a great fit for your friend, but not for you.
So, don’t write off physical therapy as a solution to your problem if your therapist isn’t helping you. Physical therapy may very well be the solution to your problem, you just may not have found the right one for YOU yet.
We’re also well aware that most people don’t know the difference between a good and bad physical therapist…actually, most people don’t even know what a physical therapist does.
So, what we wanted to do for you is help you figure out if you’re working with a good PT or if you need to think about switching to a different one.
6 Signs You’re Working With a Good Physical Therapist
1. You are treated like a person, instead like just another body/number on the schedule
This is a hard feeling to describe on paper, but we think you know what we mean. You shouldn’t feel like you’re just being “processed through the system” or “just another number on the schedule.”
Do you feel that your physical therapist cares about you as a person? If not, it’s a good sign you need to switch.
2. Consistent Progress Seen
This one seems obvious, yet a lot of people continue to see their therapist without seeing any significant progress. And we’re not just talking about progress with your pain, but also progress towards your ultimate goal(s) – what you want to be able to accomplish as a result of PT. Play with your grandkids, get back to playing sports, get back to exercising in the gym and staying healthy, etc.
The vast majority of people should see some progress within the first 2-3 treatments – most of our patients even see progress after the very first visit.
Be mindful that most times the first few sessions are geared towards clearing up your pain so that the next chunk of visits can focus on the underlying problem.
Also, know that the road to recovery is never a straight path of progress. It’s usually a winding, meandering road, but the overall trend should be moving in the right direction.
And not only should you be progressing, but your therapist should also be progressing/adapting their treatments for you…which brings us to #3:
3. Your Treatment Sessions Are Evolving
Unfortunately, many times a patient will not make any progress in the first 2-3 treatments and yet the therapist will still perform the same exact treatment again and again. This makes no sense and some would say this is the definition of crazy – doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.
Your therapist should alter and/or progress their treatments with you as you progress (or don’t progress). Not doing so would be a disservice to you.
4. They Take Time To Truly Listen To Your Concerns And/Or Goals
This goes along with #1, but it’s worth mentioning separately because it’s the real reason you chose to see a physical therapist – to get you back to the things you want to be able to do/enjoy.
If your therapist didn’t take the time to actually listen to your complaints and what you want to achieve with physical therapy, then they are just doing whatever they think you need and not what YOU really need. The most effective treatment plans (and outcomes) occur when there is a thorough understanding of a patient’s problem, complaints, goals, etc.
5. Most Of Your Treatment Involves Active Options (not passive ones)
First, we want to clarify what weI mean by passive treatments. These are the things where you and your therapist are just sitting there doing nothing – ice, heat, stim, ultrasound, traction, etc.
Here’s a typical example that, unfortunately, is all too common in our field (and hopefully not what happens to you)
A patient comes in and sits on heat for 10 minutes, then they get ultrasound for 5 minutes, then 5 minutes of a general massage, then ride the bike for 10 minutes, and finally get passed off to an aide to do some exercises for 15 minutes, and then gets 15 minutes of ice/stim at the end. So this person spends 30 minutes of their session just sitting there passively, and 25 minutes doing exercises with someone other than their therapist supervising them.
If a majority of your treatment is taken up by things like this, know that there are much better options out there for you to get your problem solved….and run to another therapist!
6. Your therapist spends at least 30 minutes of 1-on-1 time with you
We touched upon this in #5, but, again, this is worth highlighting. It’s all too common for physical therapy clinics to book patients every 15 minutes (and that doesn’t take into account therapists who overbook their schedule).
This means that these therapists are juggling ~4 patients at a time and their attention is divided among them. If you’re seeing a therapist that does this, you know exactly what we’re talking about…and how it makes you feel.
And we want to make you aware that not all PT clinics are set up like this. Here at Evolve we never double book and we dedicate at least 45 minutes of 1-on-1 time with everyone.
We hope this article has helped you figure out if you should switch physical therapists and find someone who can help you get back to doing the things you love.