Physical Therapy can get a bad rep. I've heard all the names, from "physical terrorists" for inflicting pain or "overpriced trainers" for doing the same boring exercises at every visit. I've witnessed clients complain about repeating their injury "story" to all the therapists or assistants they have to see for one ailment. I also listened to their frustration when they landed back in PT because their pain returned or they felt lost transitioning back into their fitness routine post-rehab.
The thing is, our world needs physical therapy - good physical therapy, that is. Physical Therapist's education on the musculoskeletal system and how it functions is like no other profession. We understand how movement (or lack of it) affects our muscles, joints, and other connective tissue. We get how we are all connected and the importance of considering this perspective when managing an injured body part.
The Problem with Physical Therapy
The problem lies in how physical therapists are positioned in the traditional medical system. We've got the doctorate education to be autonomous providers, yet we typically work under medical doctors. Many of our clients are sent to us after being diagnosed by the MD. This diagnosis or label determines the amount of "appropriate" PT sessions based on data from the insurance company.
Our bodies are more complex than that. Each of us is beautifully designed in our unique way. Every person's history and experience with a particular injury differs from the next. Clustering symptoms into a diagnosis that manifests the same treatment recommendations is ludicrous. It's easy for the MD to create that label based on this system. The tricky part is on the Therapist, who has to figure out how to get the patient feeling better.
A physical therapy evaluation and diagnosis process is much different than the MD. We utilize some of the same clinical tests to identify the injured structure, but then we dig much deeper. To get our clients better, we must understand the impact the damaged tissue has on the rest of the body. We then have to develop a plan that starts with hands-on care to treat the damaged and nearby tissues and progresses with prescriptive exercises to achieve the client's goals.
When physical therapists work in a traditional insurance-based medical system, they are constrained with what they can offer. They are pressed for time, have to share their clients with other therapists and assistants and work within the insurance companies' restricted guidelines. They can get a client to feel better but have difficulty providing lasting results as insurance companies don't want to pay once the pain is mostly resolved.
A Shift in Perspective - Full Spectrum Physical Therapy Care
You may be asking, "Well, isn't that the goal? If the pain is better, shouldn't PT be done?" That is certainly a reasonable question. However, when you work in the rehab industry long enough, you see that ending rehab when pain is better creates repeat clients. Pain resolution is just the beginning. The next step is restoring the body's prior strength, mobility, and function. Without this, the body is not fully healed. The patient will return to their usual routine and will likely get reinjured.
Taking care of a person from pain resolution to full function is necessary for lasting results. This full spectrum of care is the better way to do physical therapy. Unfortunately, insurance companies don't see it that way. They've bought into the quick fix and have their blinders on that pain is the only factor that needs to be addressed.
Thankfully, many physical therapists have witnessed this incomplete model of care and are done with it. They understand their client's complaints and want to offer genuinely lasting care. These therapists have broken free from the restrictive boxes the traditional model has put them in and have opened up "cash-based" physical therapy practices. These "out-of-network" clinics free the Therapist to provide the full spectrum of care necessary to meet their client's goals.
People who experience this model of practice can't believe how much better this physical therapy style is. They use much nicer names to describe their PT, such as "miracle worker" and "angel." They feel heard and supported throughout their recovery from rehab to fitness.
Yes, offering physical therapy this way is different from the standard of practice. But who wants "standard" care when you can get exceptional results from a therapist who doesn't accept the status quo and wants the best for you?
Are you curious about this better way to do physical therapy? If you are wondering if this full spectrum of care is what your body needs, call (920)320-9838. We'd be happy to answer all your questions and help determine if our way of doing PT is what you need.