Are you in need of physical therapy services? Learn what types of physical therapy you can get and how therapy services are provided.
Physical therapy is a branch of medical service involving the restoration of movement and reduction of pain. The most effective physical therapy is performed by trained, licensed professionals. Each one is specially educated in various treatment techniques for ailments affecting movement. For example, a patient with lower back pain might benefit from physical therapy. Similarly, a patient recovering from a joint injury, such as a knee dislocation may require the services of a physical therapist to help him or her recover.
If you have recently suffered from a physical injury that is causing you pain or limiting your range of motion, you may need physical therapy. Once you make that determination, you have to find a physical therapist you trust in your area. However, that may not be easy. Not every person claiming to be a physical therapist is licensed or properly trained. Here are some tips for finding the best physical therapy options near you.
Determine Whether a Specialist is Needed
Some physical therapists provide generalized physical therapy. They are trained to provide treatments that are universally helpful in a wide variety of situations. However, your specific situation may require more specialized attention. If so, you may need to seek out a specialist with additional training. Currently, there are several specialty certifications physical therapists can earn through the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Among them are:
Pulmonary and Cardiovascular Therapy
APTA also provides certifications allowing therapists to specialize in working with certain age groups. For example, a geriatric physical therapy specialist is trained to work with elderly patients. Geriatric patients often have specific concerns, such as bone density loss, arthritis, and fall recovery.
Another example of age-specific physical therapy is a pediatric physical therapist. He or she works with children who have disabilities. The goal of the therapy is to provide each child with more opportunities by increasing independence. Assistance provided by a pediatric physical therapist includes supplying adaptive equipment, such as wheelchairs or walkers for patients.
Choose the Type of Physical Therapy Service You Need
There are several types of physical therapy services available today. If you have a severe injury or disability requiring a lot of ongoing physical therapy, you may need inpatient care at a hospital or dedicated physical rehabilitation center. During your inpatient care, you will reside at the center. Staff members can provide you with the one-on-one physical therapy you need, as well as other services relating to daily living, such as meals and laundry services. Alternatively, you may opt for one of these options:
Outpatient physical therapy is performed in a hospital or rehabilitation facility. You visit the facility and leave in the same day but make repeated trips to it for treatment.
In-home scheduled or on-call physical therapy allows you to stay in your home. The physical therapist comes to you to perform treatments. He or she can also get a firsthand look at your living situation and suggest adaptive options for you, such as shower chairs or grab bars.
Get a Recommendation from Your Physician
One of the best ways to find a physical therapist is to get a recommendation from your physician. In fact, in many cases you need a physician's referral to begin physical therapy. If you look for a physical therapist independently, expect the therapists you interview to ask about your physician and your medical history. Any therapist willing to work with you without a physician's referral or background medical information is most likely not properly licensed.
Consider Your Insurance Coverage
Physical therapy is sometimes quite expensive, especially long-term physical therapy. If finances are a concern, you must make sure you only consider physical therapists offering services covered by your insurance provider. Staying within your insurance network may somewhat limit the selection of local therapists you can visit. However, doing so can help you regain your physical comfort and mobility without worrying about incurring major debts.
The staff at the clinic you are considering visiting can tell you if your insurance is accepted at the clinic. Similarly, an in-home therapist can tell you if the company he or she works for takes your insurance. You can also get assistance calculating your copay amount from the clinic. However, mistakes are always possible. Therefore, it is best to question your insurance company directly before signing up for physical therapy services.
Verify Proper Physical Therapy Licensure
It is important to make sure the physical therapist you choose is licensed. To begin your search, check with your state's physical therapy licensure agency. You can also look for therapists in your local area and verify the credentials of the therapists on your short list after the fact. The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy allows you to verify a license in any U.S. state by entering the therapist's name and location into provided search fields.
Assess Services Offered
Even if a physical therapist holds the proper credentials to practice legally, the therapist or therapy clinic may not off the specific services you require. For example, some clinics offer water therapy. Others do not. Verify the equipment and therapy techniques available. Make sure they are designed to treat your physical health issues. Also, make sure you feel comfortable with both the therapists and the therapy services offered at any facility you are considering.
More Ways to Find a Physical Therapist
A doctor's recommendation is not always the best way to find a physical therapist. The doctor may receive referral commissions for suggesting a particular therapy clinic. Even if the doctor's intentions are pure, you may simply not like the suggested clinic, so keep your options open. Other choices include:
Ask friends and family members who have had physical therapy for recommendations.
Contact local hospitals.
Check the yellow pages.
Search online databases of certified physical therapy providers, including this one provided by APTA.
Use tools like Zocdoc that let you quickly compare services offered by multiple nearby physical therapists.
Making Your Final Physical Therapy Choice
No matter how much research you do, you must also consider your personal feelings when selecting a physical therapist. You may need physical therapy for an extended period of time. He or she may also need to visit your home to provide you with the therapy you need. Therefore, you must get along with the therapist you choose. If you do not trust a potential therapist, continue your search until you find one who makes you feel comfortable.