An injury or illness can impact a person’s mobility and ability to perform everyday activities. While medicine and other treatments can help the situation, physical therapists are often sought to help individuals get back on track.
The American Physical Therapy Association says physical therapists examine each individual patient and develop plans using treatment techniques to promote mobility, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent further disability. In addition, physical therapists work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.
Physical therapists frequently work with patients’ larger medical teams to provide customized care depending on patients’ needs. Physical therapists may begin their treatment plans by gathering patients’ histories and reviewing any tests and imaging the patients may have had. This information, combined with physical examinations and studies of the injuries or illnesses, will help physical therapists to establish treatment plans for the patients.
Men and women who have been told they need physical therapy can heed to the following tips as they look for therapists to work with.
• Get a referral from your primary doctor or orthopedist. With some insurance plans, a referral will be needed for treatment. Otherwise, use your insurance plan’s provider directory to find a physical therapist who accepts your insurance.
• Check your insurance benefits to determine how much coverage you have for physical therapy. You may be limited to a certain number of sessions or have no restrictions at all.
• Many physical therapists are board certified in one speciality. They have passed tests and have documented hours treating certain conditions. This can be helpful if you require a pediatric specialists or one who has expertise with the back or neck. Any physical therapist or therapist’s assistant should be qualified and licensed.
• Ask if you will be the physical therapist’s only patient at an appointment. Some treat one individual at a time while others may see two or three patients at a time.
• Find out who will be treating you. You may be assigned the same therapist each time. If you are getting services at a therapy group, you may have a different therapist for each visit.
• Always ask questions before and after a treatment so you can continue to work on the healing process on your own and so you know which activities are safe, which should change as your treatment progresses.
Physical therapists play an integral role in helping restore patients’ mobility and helping them avoid further injury so that patients can maximize their quality of life.