Recovering from Injury often requires a three-step process, which includes pain relief and inflammation reduction, treatment, and rehabilitation. A big part of the rehabilitation process is physical therapy, meant to assist a person in recovering from a serious injury, by way of improving strength, mobility and fitness. Physical therapy (PT) involves the restoration of function, allowing you to regain your independence in the safest and most effective way possible. Going through the PT regimen may be an intimidating experience for some people at first, often because they might not know what to ask.
Physical therapy can help treat the underlying source of your pain, whether it’s arthritis or another condition, and will help alleviate chronic pain over time. Treatments may include water therapy, such as working muscles in a pool or whirlpool. Physical therapy also includes regular exercise, and working with pain specialists who can teach you the right way to exercise to alleviate pain, not increase it. Physical Therapists do the following:
- Set up a plan for their patients, outlining goals and creating a treatment schedule
- Use exercises, stretching maneuvers, hands-on therapy, and equipment to ease pain and to help increase mobility
- Evaluate a patient’s progress, modifying a treatment plan and trying new treatments as needed
- Educate patients and their families about what to expect during recovery from injury and illness and how best to cope with what happens
When selecting a physical therapist for your care, here are the top questions you should ask to ensure that you receive the quality of care you deserve.
1. How can you help as my physical therapist?
It is very important to note that physical therapy is a two-way street. The more effort you put into it, the shorter the recovery time. You need a competent physical therapist to guide you and give you direction, but you also need to keep your appointments and fully commit to the treatment plan. Whether it’s doing exercises or adjusting your workstation, truly getting you better often takes a combination of things. Your physical therapist will give you all the tools, info, and encouragement you need to achieve your goals.
2. What is your treatment philosophy?
Every therapist has a different treatment philosophy. While many of us share similar philosophies and guiding principles, we all have different influences that make our treatments unique. Subsequently, not every therapists’ approach will be the right fit for what you need.
3. What expertise do you possess that makes you uniquely qualified to treat my condition?
Almost all PT’s receive a similar education, and then tend to specialize after getting their degrees based on interests, experience, continuing education courses, professional influences and further reading, etc. While some therapists specialize in orthopedics, others specialize in vestibular rehab, or even subspecialize in sports injuries or concussions. It is important that you find a therapist who is in tune with the unique needs of your condition. It may not be the best option to see an orthopedic specialist for your injury, as they may not be able to provide the top-level care that you are looking for.
4. What will the sessions be like?
Your sessions should not be a regurgitation of your home program. Make sure that a licensed physical therapist or licensed physical therapy assistant is helping you with your program, not an untrained aide/tech. You should clearly see the value in coming to physical therapy. If not, you may need to look for a new PT.
Throughout the process, you should always keep an open line of communication with your physical therapist. It should be a joint effort in your recovery, and you should always be able to question their thought process and plan of care.