by Stacy Choquette, PTA
Hundreds of people in Boston and the surrounding towns are handed a prescription for physical therapy (PT) from their doctor each day. Some may have had PT in the past while others are new to this type of treatment. Regardless, the first question you should ask yourself is which PT clinic is right for me?
There are a substantial number of outpatient PT clinics in any given area. It is helpful if you understand what to expect in physical therapy and determine what your goals are beforehand. Ask yourself, what could make or break a clinic for you? Is it the therapist’s level of experience; the time the therapist spends with you each visit; the accessibility of the clinic, or perhaps the type of equipment the clinic has available for your rehab? For outpatient PT, many doctors have a preferred provider list of clinics in your area. You can take that information and go online to find ratings of each of the clinics and determine if thay have expertise in treating your particular injury. If your doctor doesn’t have a list and is unable to recommend a specific clinic, you can do your own search using Google and other search engines. The best recommendation can come through a friend who has past experience with a Physical Therapist. When you find a clinic that you believe suits your needs, you should call and inquire into how they can cater to your needs. A site visit is most always welcomed.
Find out what you are comfortable with and how far the clinic will go in making you comfortable. If you have a difficult time walking and moving around independently you may want to see how many patients each therapist sees per hour. If a therapist is treating more than two patients at once it may not be the place for you. Are you uncomfortable being treated or doing exercise in an open area around other patients? If not, you can ask if they have private treatment rooms available. Ask how long a patient typically waits before being seen.
Are you a very active individual with a certain goal in mind? Do the therapists specialize in treating athletes? Find out what equipment is available that may be necessary for your recovery. Most PT clinics have all the standard modalities for pain/swelling reduction and function but some clinics are very small and resources for higher level strength and agility are limited. Others can be set in a very large area, possibly even a gym with greater variety for treatment.
On the contrary the larger clinics typically have more therapists working at the same time, therefore creating a more hectic environment. If you are looking for a personalized and quiet atmosphere, you may want to find a smaller clinic where only 2 or 3 therapists work in the office.
If you’re still not sure, the next step would be to visit the actual clinic and check it out for yourself. You can call and set up a time to stop by at your convenience for a site visit and to meet the staff. You can take a brief tour, chat with the therapists, and see the clinic in operation. This will give you a good sense if it is right for you.
Trust your gut, don’t hesitate to ask questions , be picky, and do your research. In the end it will be worth it when you’re back to being yourself! They are all somewhat different, but there is a clinic out there that is right for you.
Stacy Choquette is a Physical Therapy Assistant at Boston Sports Medicine