Whether you need rehabilitation due to a surgery or injury, or you simply want help increasing your flexibility and mobility, seeing a physical therapist regularly can make a huge difference. There are multiple types of physical therapists, each of whom may use different tools, methods, and exercises to help you meet your recovery goals. In general, however, any physical therapist you choose should meet a certain standard or set of requirements. Here are four tips for choosing a physical therapist:
1. Seek a Specialist
Physical therapy is a very wide field that encompasses many aspects of recovery techniques, including sports medicine, massage, exercise, and stretching. Because the therapy field is so vast, it is important that you find a specialist physical therapist that is experienced with handling your type of injury. Specializations can include feet, hip, back, and shoulder therapies. Your physical therapist should be trained to understand and work with all areas of the body, but he or she should be additionally trained in specific methods and areas of focus. Physical therapy can also be specialized for pre-natal or post-natal care, stroke or cardiac rehabilitation, and sports injuries.
2. Ask for Referrals
If you feel unsure about how to begin your search for a physical therapist, ask your doctor for recommendations. You can also ask other doctors within the same practice, as they may have additional suggestions. Word-of-mouth referrals remain one of the best ways to find a good physical therapist, so do not hesitate to ask your friends, family members, and colleagues for recommendations. They can give you specific feedback about their personal experiences, which can help you make a decision.
3. Check Their Education and Licensing
In order to practice, physical therapists must be specially licensed. If you cannot easily find information about your therapist’s education and licensing, go elsewhere. If your physical therapist is properly licensed, you can ask if they have any other certifications. A good physical therapist will be interested in learning new techniques, so see if yours has attended any recent workshops or conferences. This can help demonstrate their level of commitment and passion.
4. Examine Your Insurance Coverage
In most states, you have the freedom to choose a physical therapist without a physician’s note or referral. Your insurance company, however, may require a visit to your primary care doctor first, or may have a limited list of approved physical therapists for you to choose from. Be sure to ask about the co-pay, and how claims are submitted to your insurance company. Depending on the type of treatment and physical therapy you require, however, you may find it worthwhile to pay for your specialist out-of-pocket.