Are you wondering what you should expect from physical therapy? Or maybe what you should not expect? As a physical therapist for the past 12 years and as a movement specialist for the past 24 years, I can confidently share what you deserve in physical therapy.
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What you should expect from physical therapy
You deserve a thorough evaluation, no matter what you are reaching out to physical therapists for, whether that’s movement issues, chronic pain, acute pain, vestibular, balance issues, post surgery, pre surgery, or any other reason.
That means not only a physical therapist should be looking at your current symptom (s), but they are looking to figure out why they happened in the first place, even during post-surgical cases. A thorough evaluation includes looking at a detailed movement assessment, where your compensation patterns lie, what might be driving some of the issues you’ve had, and all of your modifiable lifestyle factors. How is your sleep? How is your nutrition? How are your relationships? How is your stress management? If your therapist is missing these details, they are missing a huge element of helping you heal.
You deserve a physical therapist who practices what they preach, whether that’s movement, balance, or exercise. They should be a health leader, educator, and movement specialist, and because of that, they have an obligation to be able to do the things that they are recommending that you should do.
It is hard to find 1-on-1 care in today’s healthcare environment. I worked in the outpatient practice for eight years, so I understand a busy outpatient setting, and unfortunately, the demands of insurance companies are dictating this. However, you deserve to be able to be the only person in the room, to be listened to, and to have your therapist understand your diagnosis, prognosis, underlying causes, current concerns, goals, and plan of care without being pulled in a million directions. One-on-one care is extremely important, whether that’s 30-minute sessions or 60-minute sessions.
You should expect someone who listens to your story and understands that you are not a “shoulder problem,” you are not a “hip injury,” and that you are a person; you are human with a story and emotions and thoughts and all the things that make you wonderful. So, make sure that someone is looking at you as a human with a beautiful story, not just an injury.
You should expect a therapist to help you perform mindful, intentional movement to help guide you to move with interoception, internal awareness of self, to be able to understand movement quality, as opposed to high-volume exercises with poor form. As movement educators, one of the greatest gifts we can share with you is to help you move your body the way it was intended to so that you can continue to do the things you love.
What are some of the things that you should not expect from physical therapy? This is equally as important.
You should not be on hot packs, cold packs, electrical stimulation, ultrasounds, or other modalities that aren’t helping you get well. They are sometimes time-savers for the therapist, but they are not actually creating better movement in your body. They’re not getting to the root of your issue. They are not moving you forward, and you want to be able to maximize your time spent in physical therapy.
You don’t want to get to physical therapy and go on the treadmill or bike to warm up for 10 or 15 minutes. You want to learn how to move your body. Every minute counts!
You should not be going through tons and tons of band exercises with poor form without guidance. Especially when you feel like you are going through the motions and you could do this at home.
If you feel like you could do that at home, that’s your first sign that this is not a good fit.
I want everyone to believe in physical therapy. We have an amazing opportunity to share with you the gift of movement.
In summary, when you think physical therapy is a waste of time, you’re put on machines and lots of modalities, and you feel like you are competing for your PT’s attention, you deserve better.
Please make sure to find a great physical therapist in your area who does one-on-one care, that looks at you as the whole person, that addresses potential root causes of your injury or your pain or any other issue that you might be experiencing.
If you need help, please reach out to us, we do virtual and in-person care, and we perform holistic physical therapy. Schedule your evaluation here: https://p.bttr.to/3qHXz8i
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