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Four Things to Look For in Effective Rehab

In evaluating your physical therapy needs, it’s crucial to seek out treatment and professionals that meet your specific rehab needs, even if they don’t necessarily line up with your wants.

Whoa. That sounds a little backwards, doesn’t it? Isn’t what you want in your PT just as important? Let’s explore this idea further.

First—your wants are significant, and should be considered.

Your very first meeting with a physical therapist is typically an evaluation of your rehab needs. There may be some discussion of what you would like to get out of rehab, and maybe what you don’t want, and this is important to painting a full picture of what is needed. Evaluation is not only about tests and measurement – it’s about finding a physical therapist who can listen to and assess what you’re saying as well as what their eyes and hands are discovering.

Listening is invaluable to diagnosis and treatment, as a patient’s history and subjective feedback helps add more dimension to the evaluation and ultimately the treatment.  Whatever therapist you choose should show an understanding of the idea that there is a unique human in whole and depth behind that knee, shoulder, back, or whatever else may be creating pain.

That said, many individuals enter into PT with preconceived ideas concerning what will help them. Maybe a friend told them about this method, or they saw something on television about that new technology. You must trust that your DPT is going to respond to your needs over your wants, and do what is best for you on an individual basis.

PT isn’t just about new technologies or treatments. Often what seems to be popular does not coincide with truly effective therapy.  The experience and skill of a DPT is clearly demonstrated when each movement must be broken down and pieced back together in order to get to the root of the problem. 

DPTs are movement scientists. No one is better prepared to dissect positions and movements to identify, breakdown, and correct than doctors who are physically trained and experienced in human movement and design. Our bodies are extremely complex in organization and structure, and understanding its layers and being able to peel them back to break down the movements to their elements is a true, critical skill. Your DPT will understand, given this ability, which treatments are best for the issue at hand.

Next, your DPT must provide a treatment plan with progression in mind. Stagnancy in rehabilitation is a sign of lack of attention.  Make sure your plan of care is progressing accordingly and the DPT is continuously communicating with you to determine when your program needs to be modified or developed further.  

Finally, your DPT must work with a goal of independence at the forefront of treatment.

While our healthcare system continues to encourage and facilitate dependence rather than independence, an over-reliance on services and treatments which require the assistance of providers can be counterproductive for long-term health.  Providers should encourage self-awareness and education as treatments are rendered. the goal is always to move patients toward becoming independent in managing their own care.   

A true professional with your best interests at heart will look to meet your rehabilitation needs, rather than just answering to your wants. There is a difference between the two, and as a DPT, I feel it is in your best interest to meet your rehab needs first and foremost. After a thorough evaluation that involves listening as well as seeing and feeling, whatever DPT you choose should consider the big picture, and provide solutions that are truthful and honest, rather than simply what you want to hear.