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Tips for Choosing a Good Physical Therapist

by Lori Diamos12 Comments

For a person who has never attended physical therapy, the first time can bring many questions.  One question I hear or have been asked in the past is how do I choose a good physical therapist? Although there are no hard or fast rules when it comes to picking a physical therapist below are some suggestions that may assist you in your search.

  1. Ask your doctor if he or she has a go to therapist they prefer to refer to.  Doctor’s work with a wide range of therapists from different companies and locations.  Over time they often observe some that communicate better than others, particular names that patients rave about again or again, or even certain therapists that have consistently good outcomes so don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for a recommendation.
  2. Talk to valued friends, neighbors, or coworkers.  Lots of people attend PT at some time or another during their life.  Word of mouth from someone you know and trust is a great way to find a skilled physical therapist near you.
  3. When you call a clinic ask if any of their clinicians specialize in treating your injury. Therapists are trained and capable of treating many different problems but if a specialist exists you know you have someone with advanced skills to meet your individualized needs.
  4. Head to online sites.  Some therapy techniques require special certification and they list these certified therapists on their websites for you to find.  For more information on clinicians with advanced clinical knowledge or skills in different physical therapy specialty areas you can also head over to the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties  to find certified professionals near you.
  5. Therapists new and old receive excellent training but some patients are apprehensive with a newer graduate.  If this is the case for you let your scheduler know this when you make your appointment and they can place you with a more experienced therapist for your care.
  6. Rely on your own instincts.  You may be with the best and brightest therapist but sometimes your personalities do not click and that is ok. There is no harm in politely requesting a new therapist that better gels with your personality.
  7. In addition to strong clinical skills a good physical therapist should be inquisitive, attentive, a good listener, caring, and creative in their ex progression to help you best meet your needs.

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The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.


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  1. Lori Diamos

    Cindy word of mouth is always a great way whether it is friends, family, co workers, or talking to your health club and personal trainer. You can also call some local physical therapy clinics for recommendations as well. Hope that helps!

  2. Trayson Evans

    I take comfort that any physical therapist has an advanced degree. They have to go to a lot of school to earn their title. Part of that schooling is practicing what they’ve learned. I understand the point that the article is making though. Any therapist has a lot to learn from experience. A newly graduated therapist is definitely no different.

  3. Ernest London

    I like that you mentioned that your general doctor might have good suggestions for physical therapists. I hurt my knee last month playing basketball, and it still hasn’t healed. I haven’t been able to find the right physical therapist though. I will make sure to ask my doctor if he knows anybody good.

  4. Amy Tang

    It was nice for me to read it. I really appreciate your tips about choosing a good Physical Therapist and wanted to say thank you for answering the questions on my mind.

  5. Rosie Beckett

    My husband was recently injured and he wants to find a sports medicine doctor to help him recover quickly so that he can start running again. You make an interesting point that you should get recommendations from your primary care doctor because they will provide quality references. Also, I like that you say to call a clinic in advance to find out if any of the doctors specialize in treating my husband’s injury and I will definitely do that!

  6. Easton Memmott

    I like the tip you gave to choose a physical therapist that was referred to you by your loved ones, so you can know that they offer the best level of care. My doctor has asked that I go to physical therapy after my car accident last month, so my back can heal correctly. I will be sure to ask my loved ones if they can refer me to anyone.

  7. Duncan Lance

    I think you make a pretty good point in the article about choosing a physical therapist who is inquisitive and a good learner. After all, an inquisitive physical therapist will be more interested in finding out what exactly is wrong with you. This could lead them to developing a more coherent approach to curing your ailment.

  8. Sophia Slate

    Thank you for stating that you should talk to valued friends, neighbors, or coworkers when looking for a physical therapist. I’m still having back pains after my car accident several months ago, and am thinking of seeing a physical therapist. I will definitely keep all of your great tips and information in mind when looking for a physical therapist.

  9. Jesse Ford

    I like how you mentioned that you can find if a physical therapist is certified by looking online to see what certifications they have. My brother is thinking about going to physical therapy because he injured himself last week playing basketball at the rec center. It seems like a good idea to see a reputable professional who could help him rehabilitate his injury to get back to work and moving around again.

  10. gus white

    I was in a car accident recently, and injured my shoulder. My primary care doctor told me that I should see a physical therapist to help me heal properly from my injuries, so I am on the search for one. I love the tip that you gave to check the special certifications that a physical therapist holds before you choose to hire them. When we look for one, I will be sure to consider their certifications.

  11. Victoria Addington

    After getting an elbow injury, my little brother has to undergo some treatments. Because of that, I had to find a professional that offers in-home physical therapy. Thanks for your tips on how to choose a good PT. With that considered, I shall then take your tip on looking through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties to find certified professionals near our area.

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