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Choose a physical therapist with the right experience and credentials

Choosing the correct physical therapist for yourself can be quite a daunting task if you do not know what to look for. There are several key points that can aid in your decision making, and this decision shouldn’t be taken lightly. Licensing, credentials, and experience are some of the most important factors, here is some advice to help.


Do

Do make sure your PT answers all your questions clearly and concisely

Your PT should be ready, willing and able to answer your questions regarding your current injury. This includes frequency, duration and type of therapy needed to alleviate your current situation. Beware of the PT’s that cannot answer most of your questions or is unclear about the therapy needed.

Do seek out a physical therapist who has experience with your exact condition

If you have a balance related issue, a sports medicine injury, or even a cardiac event and need rehabilitation, you must seek out a PT certified to do so. You would not want to go to cardiac specialist for your sports injury. Only choose a PT that is certified and experienced in the condition you are seeking therapy for.

Do find a PT that has the right credentials

Look for a PT who is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) as well as other specialty certifications. Some of theses specialties involve extensive post graduate studies in working with different populations. Some PT’s have more advanced hands on or manual skills which is also an extra certification. Either way, don’t be embarrassed to ask about you PT’s present credentials.

Do always check to see if your PT is licensed by the state

Even though PT can stand for personal trainer, you must make sure you are working with a PT that is licensed by the state they practice in. Don’t get me wrong, there are amazing personal trainers out there, but they have a certification, not a license. If you question that licensure, you can always go to the office of professions website in your specific state.

Do connect with and trust your PT

In some cases you will see your PT 2 to 3 times a week for several weeks. With this in mind, they may have to perform techniques and exercises that may be painful. If you are not understanding the reasons for what they are having you do and you don’t get the right vibe, rehab can be stunted and the correct rehab may not ensue. Choose someone who you feel like you can trust and connect with.


Don't

Do not choose based on convenience

Many people try to go to a PT clinic that is close to their home or apartment. This is completely understandable, but do not let that be the ultimate decision maker. By going a little further away, it may prove to be invaluable. Credentials and experience is how you should ultimately choose the PT you want to work with.

Do not go to a PT facility with only one PT on location

When there is more than one PT in a practice, you can always switch therapists if you are unsatisfied. Options can prove to be paramount, and choosing a place that only has one or or two physical therapists may leave you getting rehabilitation on their time and not your own.

Do not go to a place just because it looks fancy with all new equipment

Some people are very impressed with facilities that have state of the art everything. One must realize it is not the place that will make you better, it’s your PT. Yes, having access to better and newer equipment is a positive, but the knowledge, skills and experience of your PT is what gets you better.

Do not go to a PT office that does not verify your insurance beforehand

Some places will get you in ASAP, but they may also leave you with a big fat bill. Make sure they take your insurance and that you are clear about what services are covered, what your deductible is, and how many visits in total you are entitled to.

Do not go without a proper referral or references from a solid source

Some people choose a PT only by looking at reviews online or choosing from a list at your doctor’s office.However, it is important to speak to someone first hand who has not only been to the facility you want to attend, but also who worked with the PT you want to work with as well. Many doctors can recommend physical therapists that they have worked with in the past as well.


Summary
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It is not always that easy finding a good physical therapist. Just like any profession, some have more experience than others and some are simply more qualified. Do your due diligence and research both the facility and the therapist you may potentially work with. You will be more apt to stick to your PT sessions if you like the facility and trust your PT. Remember, don’t get swayed by all the bells and whistles of any facility -- it’s the experience and quality of your PT that is the most important.


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Dr. Scott A. Weiss DPT LATC CSCS FACSMLicensed Physical Therapist and Board Certified Athletic Trainer

Dr. Scott Weiss is a licensed physical therapist and board certified athletic trainer in the state of New York. He is also a registered exercise physiologist, strength and conditioning specialist and advanced personal trainer with over twenty ye...

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