Whether you are scheduling a long-overdue knee replacement or helping a loved one on the road to recovery after an illness or injury, you have the option to choose your care. By researching therapists and rehabilitation providers, you can make sure you feel confident about the care you or your loved one will receive. Here are a few tips for selecting a great physical therapist and provider.

Q. What are some of the most important things people should consider when choosing a physical therapy provider?

A. The most important first step is to ensure that the therapist has a license and is in good standing (check your state’s Physical Therapy Board for license verification). But knowing the location of the practice is also important so you are less likely to cancel or miss a session if the department or clinic’s location is inconvenient. Finally, you may not know that many facilities may be staffed with physical therapist assistants and physical therapist techs/aides in addition to the physical therapist. You should find out which staff will most likely be treating you regularly. Although a physical therapist must establish your treatment plan on your first visit, ask if your treatments will be performed by a therapist or by one of their assistants. Although excellent care (supervised by the therapist) can be provided by an assistant, it’s important to know who is working with you and his or her limitations, practice restrictions and strengths.

How to Select a Therapist and Provider: Physical Therapy

Q. What qualities should people look for in a physical therapist? 

A. Look for a physical therapist who has compassion and good working relationships with the whole medical team. You want a physical therapist who can view how everything in your body works together, not just the specific condition or injury you originally asked for help with. A good physical therapist listens well and follows through with plans you made together at the outset, and his/her treatment plan should be supported by current clinical evidence and implemented through up-to-date treatments.

Q. What questions should people ask when assessing a physical therapist and provider during care?

A. Asking the following questions will help guarantee that your physical therapy experience is smooth and successful: 

  • Is this person not only addressing my condition but also involving me in the treatment plan? 
  • Is this physical therapist giving me the information I need to assist with managing my own care and preventing future issues? 
  • Is the facility clean and organized? 
  • Is the staff protecting my personal information? 
  • Does the staff have experience with and knowledge of my specific condition(s)?

Finding a physical therapist can seem difficult, but armed with these questions and a little research, you can find a relationship you feel fully comfortable in.

By Margaret Schmidt