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Physical Therapy

mjyfgslmmjyfgsl Posts: 57
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
What is the best criteria for selecting a Physical Therapist: location ,personal recommendation ?

My surgeon stated that I should go as close as possible to where I live


  • My only suggestion is to find a PT that specializes or is at least extremely familiar with what procedure you've had done. I wouldn't want a PT that works mostly on knees, for example, do PT on my neck after a fusion.

  • I would have to disagree with Dave. I haven't had a "bad" experience either but I have had several that were a waste of time and money.

    I have only had one PT who really understood spinal issues. The others I went to supposedly had the expertise, but the difference was night and day. In some cases I was given the very same exercises, but with the one I was taught to isolate muscles and was moving maybe an inch, whereas the others had me moving an entire limb.

    I think you have asked a really good question and I do not have an exact answer. I think it is very difficult to find a top-notch PT who specializes in functionality after spinal surgery.

    Personally I drove clear across the city where I live to get to the spinal dynamics PT.

    How to find this special person? This is difficult since they do not "specialize" the way a physician does. You could try calling around to different spine clinics, neurosurgeons and ortho spine surgeons' offices and inquiring who they recommend. Or you could call the orthopedic floors of hospitals and talk to some of the nurses. Word of mouth is usually the best way to find a PT that is experienced in recovery from spine surgery.
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  • I have done a lot of PT over the past few years and I can honestly say that I have never had a bad experience. Having said that, my current physical therapist has her Doctorate degree and she focused her graduate work on Lumbar therapy. That was exactly what I needed, so it seemed like a good fit. After eight weeks with her, I'm very pleased.

    I would encourage you to ask around, but also feel free to ask about a prospective therapist's particular expertise because they do vary. A reputable office would respect that question and be happy to help you select the right therapist.

    This is just my opinion based upon my experience. Best wishes in your PT selection and actual therapy. PT has done wonders for me!

  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    My surgeon was different. When seeing him last summer, before we knew he'd do my lumbar fusion, my surgeon asked me where I lived, I told him, he said "Well, the best guy for spines that I like to use is on the other side of Phoenix". I said "fine, I'll drive anywhere you want if the guy is the best". It's not how close to your home the PT is, but how adept the PT facility is at dealing with whatever you are having worked on.

    If you aren't having any specific PT, maybe just strengthening abdominal core muscles for a back problem, then you can likely choose another facility but first find out if they are in network for your insurance. Then call the facilities and ask about their experience with patients with your diagnosis/needs. Maybe even call your surgeon back and ask if he has a preferred physical therapist.

    The benefit of going to the one my doctor recommended is the guy totally understood what my surgeon would be looking for and he works on many of his patients. I also spoke to some others in PT and I'd say 90% of the knee replacement patients I spoke to used on specific surgoen. He liked to have only the PT facility he liked work on the patient if possible. I spoke to one guy who drives over 40 miles to get to the one his surgeon recommended. It was the same years ago when I had my knee ACL repaired while living in NJ. All of the patients of our knee surgeon, if possible, went to the specific office of a large PT chain that I went to. Again, the surgeon had created a post-op plan with the PT facility at that location so it was the best option. I was driving 15 miles when there's a facility much closer to my home.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,522
    I've included a section about Physical Therapy
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
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  • Finding the right PT may take a few attempts so don't be afraid to change. Just make sure you don't like them for the right reason not because he makes you work - lol!

    What might be a better way to narrow down the field is to consider who not to go to. I tried my neurologists PT in his office because I thought it would be good to have someone working directly with him --- NOT!! They were a PT mill that handled mainly elderly brain injury patients. I've tried large groups but didn't like that the PT was always different at each visit. PT is not a one-on-one visit like a doctor but there should be consistency in treatment. I shy away from the fancy offices. If they have alot of money to put into decorating and new equipment they are billing way to much for their effort. Usually in these places the session is short and not productive.

    You will need to allocate 1 1 1/2 hour two to three days per week for therapy. In smaller offices you often have to wait for massage or other treatment that can only be done by the licensed PT. Waiting a few minutes is normal - waiting longer than 15 means they are overbooking.

    For your first few sessions you might want to have someone drive you. Depending on your exercises and condition you might be in more pain in the beginning.

  • I use the same Neurologist facility as you .I was thinking of going to his PT but glad that I read your post.
    I went for PT in 2005 for an arm problem and had good results but I am not sure if they have anyone who specializes in spine therapy
  • I lost my first post on this thread so here is another try.

    You don't want anyone who is just out of school. I would go to the facility and talk to the director and ask what the steps would be to get you going again. Ask if the PT goes to talks and lectures especially ones on the spine. Ask how they keep current. Ask about the length of each visit. I agree with Kris-NY with it taking 1 1/2 hours each visit. That includes the heat and icing down time. Doesn't hurt to ask around especially at the hospital you had the surgery done at. I would never again go to a Dr. owned/group owned place. You may be limited to where you can go because of insurance.

  • None re insurance
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