Physical Therapists (PTs) have many years of training. In 2003, most PT programs switched to doctorate level programs. And since 2010, all new graduate physical therapists have been required to obtain a DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy). However, this degree does not necessarily translate into becoming a good PT. Here are 5 easily ways to identifiy if you are in the right hands!
1. Your PT evaluates your whole body, not just the injuried site:
When you have an injury, there is usually a biomechanical reason that it occurred. A physical therapist is trained to determine the cause of the problem. They should not just focus on decreasing the pain, but rather, getting to the root of the injury. For example, many times the reason people sprain their ankle is not just because of weakness in the ankle. It can actually be traced back to weakness of the hips. Your physical therapist should assess and see how the rest of your body is functioning, so the problem can be solved.
2. Your PT explains what is causing the problem and discusses how it can be fixed:
After your therapist evaluates you, they should be able to explain the injury to you, why the injury occurred, link different biomechanical flaws, and give you some immediate solutions. Your therapist should also be able to explain your doctor's diagnosis and discuss the results of MRIs or X-rays. PTs are not legally allowed to prescribe or suggest medications, however, they should have knowledge and understanding. Therefore, you can ask them questions about your medications. (They just cannot tell you which ones to take or how much to take).
3. Your PT spends more than 30 minutes one-on-one with just you:
When we have a biomechanical issue, we unknowingly perform exercises incorrectly. Therefore, your therapist should guide you through your exercises, and give you constant feedback on form. A good therapist will give you a few exercises to complete at home, but only those that you can perform well without feedback.
4. Your PT uses hands-on manual techniques; not just exercises:
Physical therapists are trained to mobilization and manipulation joints and soft tissue. This is critical in your recovery. With an injury, the joint mechanism or musle is no longer performing in its appropriate and natural way. Your physical therapist should identify this and work to mobilize the joint or muscle to its correct form or movement. These technqiues willl improve your joint movement and playability of your muscles. In term, you will feel better, faster!
5. Your PT explains and shows you how your body should move:
If you don't know what movement is incorrect, you cannot fix it! Your therapist should show you and explain how you are standing, sitting, or walking incorrectly. They should then show you how to fix the incorrect form. Learning the correct movement pattern is a huge part of the recovery process.
For more questions, feel free to contact Sara Mikulsky via email: email@example.com