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What is the difference between a good and bad physical therapist?

A lot of people unfortunately have suffered at the hands of a bad therapist. These therapists might have had good intentions however for whatever reason their treatment or advice has made things worse. This blog aims to help give you some pointers on how to pick a good physical therapist.

What are some red flags to look out for when picking a physical therapist?

Some red flags to look out for can be very obvious and may actually lead to some instant pain or discomfort others are not so obvious. Below we discuss some red flags to look out for.

Relies too much on passive treatment – How many times have you got a massage or other forms of passive treatment, immediately felt good, only to wake up the next day and be back to square one? This is unfortunately a very frequent occurrence despite all the evidence supporting active rehabilitation as the way to go. Physical therapists who rely mostly or completely on passive treatment are choosing to ignore the evidence and this can prolong your rehab.

Wants to see you twice a week for the next year – This usually goes hand in hand with the previous point. Treatment should be aimed at giving you the tools to self-manage your condition, so you don’t have to rely on your therapist for the rest of your life. If they want you to come in twice a week every week it sounds more like a money grab then necessary treatment.

Doesn’t listen to you – This is a big one. You have been in a lot of pain, it has affected your whole life however, your physical therapist doesn’t want to hear it they just want to talk the whole time and show you how much they know. Sound familiar? This is a big problem as it doesn’t allow you to express the impact that your injury has had on you and discuss ways to better your situation. All this does is give your physical therapist a chance to big note themselves. No thanks, find someone else.

Uses words like “don’t do that”, “you will never get back to doing that”, “you are severely out of alignment” etc. – Unfortunately, this is another common occurrence. How much of a downer is it when you are told these things? Does it make you feel good? No, it normally leaves you worse off mentally and gives you little hope of getting back to doing the things you love. A lot of these comments are just not true either. If you follow a good rehabilitation program you can get back to doing the things you love and get out of pain. As soon as you hear things like this, run!

How do I know if I have found a good physical therapist?

OK, enough of the negatives lets talk about how to know if you have found the right one.

They get to know who you are as a person – This should be a no brainer. You are not just a dollar sign and getting to know you helps you feel more comfortable with your treatment, helps the practitioner create a program that fits in with your life, and ensures that no important details are missed.

They use their spare time to research ways to help treat your condition/injury – Your know you have found a good one when they have used some of there spare time throughout the day to find the best way to treat your condition, or to help you get back to doing what you love quicker. Not only does this show that they want to help you get better sooner but also shows that they care and value the effect the injury has had on your life.

They develop an individual exercise program tailored around your goals – This is potentially the most important one, as it’s the treatment you receive that is going to get you out of pain. A good practitioner builds an exercise program around your needs and what you want to get back to doing. Not just giving you the same program they have given to the 30 clients before you. Everyone is individual and have their own personal situations and the program that is given to you needs to reflect this.

They find ways to help address your barriers to good health- most people who undergo treatment have some sort of barrier/s that have been stopping them from getting back to good health. A good practitioner will come up with solutions to get past these barriers and discuss how to implement them with you, not just brush over it and do nothing about it.

So, when deciding whether your practitioner is right for you, have a think about the points above. If they are showing some red flags, it might be time to find someone else.

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