In general patients should be aware that having a physical therapist license does not mean one automatically gets good results. The patient should always do their research before choosing the appropriate physical therapist and then request the full attention and the best possible treatment. Many of the patients that I currently treat have gone to other physical therapists before eventually coming to see me.
Rarely do I receive a patient with an ailment in the body that has been treated by a physical therapist that has spent the appropriate time working on them. By this I mean if one has tendinitis in the shoulder or knee, the physical therapist should concentrate on the tendon using a hands on technique for about a half hour, applying the right amount of force, without causing too much discomfort. The patient should never feel so much pain that they want to jump off the table or tense another part of their body, but they should feel a release and relief during the session. One should see the physical therapist’s hands moving slowly and intensely, not hurting the patient but listening to the body and tendon in order respond and aid in the healing process. There should be communication and understanding between patient and physical therapist. The goal of the physical therapist should be to change the position of the tendon and put it back into the right place. This is not an easy task nor does it happen in one treatment. The most important part of the process is to work with an experienced and talented physical therapist.
Education and years of experience does not make a great physical therapist. For example if one spends 10 years working in a hospital setting, all a physical therapist will learn is to get the patient out of the hospital as soon as possible. So the focus of the physical therapy is to teach the patient to get out of bed and walk to the door OR go from room to room or from the room to the car and then eventually home. Another example would be working for 10 years as a physical therapist with a strong influence from insurance companies. Here the physical therapist only learns to accomplish the goals set by the insurance company and then delivering a full report on the patient. At no point is the patients needs seriously addressed.
The ideal combination to be a successful physical therapist is the right training and natural talent. For a patient to get the best treatment one should work with a physical therapist that has been working independently for 10-15 years and spends an hour with the patient one on one. The physical therapist should clearly address the symptoms and injury of the patient, creating positive results and a good relationship.