So you’re shopping around for the “right” PT?
A physical therapist is well versed in treating a laundry list of conditions from head to toe. Although there are a few therapists that work with niche populations, most therapists work with a variety of people. If you have a specific question about your injury or surgery, I would suggest sending us an email with your questions and concerns. We may not be able to lay out a full plan for you but we should be able to give you some clarity on what to expect.
If you’re still not sure if we are the right fit for you, here is a little something we wrote to help you narrow down your search:
Sometimes your doctor may recommend a few PTs in your home or work area. That can help narrow down the choices, especially in New York. However, In New York State (and in most states) you don’t need a referral from your doctor to attend physical therapy. So for the purpose of this ‘exercise’ (pun intended) let’s just say that you start with a clean slate and need some help on deciding on one PT out of the few hundred in this city.
There are five things you should keep in mind when looking for a PT:
1. Location, Location, Location
If you’re in the need of a physical therapist then you’ll most likely be making a commitment to go to PT one to two times a week for several weeks. That means you should start your search by looking at PTs in your work or home neighborhood OR along transit lines convenient to your commute. Websites like YELP and Zocdoc are great for this. They can also give you some insight as to their reputation. Which brings us to number 2!
YELP and Zocdoc are the largest websites for customer reviews in the country. YELP has tons of physical therapists by neighborhood with great (and not so great) reviews. Zocdoc is just as good but a bit more selective, only because it’s a pay-to-join site that allows patients (that’s you) to book an appointment directly through the site. If this isn’t new to you then you already know how valuable these sites can be but maybe you didn’t know that you could review how good your muffin was at your local coffee shop AND tell the world how great your physical therapist was. Now you know.
3. Knowing is half the battle
Your physical therapist’s experience and education is an important thing to consider. Every PT graduates with the letters DPT after their name. DPT stands for Doctor of Physical Therapy, it’s the standard in our industry. After the DPT you may see a few more letters that signify other accomplishments they’ve achieved after graduating. Some common ones you might run into are:
OCS – Orthopaedic certified specialist
SCS – Sports certified specialist
CMPT – Certified Manual Physical Therapist
COMT – Certified Orthopaedic Manual Therapist
FAAOMPT – Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists
These credentials are just one way you, as a patient and consumer, can identify those therapists that have put in extra time and effort into becoming better practitioners.
4. Out-of-network vs. In-network
Once you’ve narrowed down your search by location, review and education you should also consider how much this may cost. If you are planning on using your insurance to cover the cost of PT you will have two options: out-of-network vs. in-network.
The term ‘out-of-network’ strikes fear into the hearts and pockets of many people. Your insurance company wants you to think an out-of-network (OON) provider will cost you and arm and a leg but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Most OON doctors will bill your insurance for you (just like an In-network provider) and charge a reasonable co-insurance (that means co-pay).
Being an OON provider allows them to have more flexibility and time with their patients. For example, many physical therapy clinics will schedule patients for 20 mins sessions followed by exercise time with unlicensed aides. Many OON providers spend more one on one time (up to one hour, one one one sessions) with their patients and are less likely to pass them off to exercise aides.
5. Finally…Specialties and Services
As we mentioned before, PTs should be well versed in treating many conditions. Reading up on the therapists in the clinic may help to give you an idea on the emphasis that particular clinic places on continuing education and experience when hiring. The more experienced PTs will have most likely come across your particular injury, many times.
Thanks for reading and we hope this helps!
F Squared PT