Is all PT the same? Well, I guess not. A client came to see me the other day, very discouraged about an experience she had with a different PT. She had surgery on her shoulder and was told by the surgeon that she could see a physical therapist in the office connected to his. She made the appointment and started treatment 2 weeks after surgery. Now, this person has had a lot of injuries through her lifetime and has received a lot of rehab. She is in her late 60’s and very active. I’m pretty sure she can ski and hike circles around my 44-year-old self! For context, there are a lot of very active and healthy older adults in the beautiful state of Colorado. It isn’t unusual to see a 70-year-old or even an 80-year-old mountain biking, hiking, skiing or participating in an advanced exercise class. I love this and my goal is to be one of these people.
I’ve veered from the original story. My client was underwhelmed by the experience she had. She was given very little time or attention, measurements were not taken of her starting point and the exercises prescribed caused extra pain. She sought me out as we have developed a relationship over the years and she was worried that the treatment she was getting was not going to help her get back to her activities, as she had hoped. She decided to come and see me, which is a bit of a drive for her and the reason she didn’t start with me in the first place. I did a standard eval, subjective report of injury and surgery and how she is feeling now. Then I took measurements of her good arm and the post-surgical arm to determine range of motion. Treatment followed which included passive treatment to the arm, joint and soft tissue and then it was wrapped up with education on how to be more comfortable at home and how to do exercises pain-free.
When we finished, she was so thankful and felt better already. I was flabbergasted by the difference in level of care that she received and was happy that she came back to me. I think there are 2 factors at play here. In some PT clinics, it’s a numbers game. Physical Therapists have to see a high volume of patients each day to hit their quotas. This may mean seeing 4 patients per hour. The other factor is that older clients are viewed as having different goals than younger folks. Listening to what my client’s goals are gives me a very good idea of how active she is. At no time do I assume that she can’t do those things just because she is in her late 60’s.
Moving forward, I plan to keep the quality high for my clients. One-hour initial evaluations, 45-minute follow up visits and I continue to keep listening to what my clients say. I can do this because I have created an environment in which it works.
What’s the take-home message? Find a PT that is going to listen to you and deliver the quality care that you deserve. Not happy where you are? Find another one. Colorado is a direct-access state which means you do not need a dr’s referral for PT. Want to learn more about direct access? Tune in for the next blog post, coming soon!
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