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“My Physical Therapist”

Month–wonder if anyone knows that besides the physical therapists?  It always amazes me when I ask a new patient if they have ever had physical therapy and their answer is, “no.”  Many of the people I know in San Francisco have a team of practitioners: my doctor, my dentist, my chiropractor, my acupuncturist, my nutritionist, my personal trainer, the list goes on and on.  I look forward to the day when physical therapists consistently make the list of healthcare practitioners that patients seek out if they have a musculoskeletal injury.

A couple of years ago, my friend was diagnosed with an L5-S1 spondylolisthesis.  He was anxious about the diagnosis and asked for my advice.  I assured him that this was a common condition that PT’s treat and encouraged him to seek treatment.  A few weeks later he told me about his experience choosing a physical therapist.

He explained that he called the clinic and asked to speak to the therapist in order to interview her before starting treatment.  I laughed at the time–he wanted to interview her??  I told him that isn’t the way it works–generally patients just schedule the appointment and go for the initial evaluation where they meet the therapist for the first time.  Of course, I’ve given many clinic tours and talked to plenty of patients at the front desk to answer questions before their first session.  In the past, I always did so with a little (hopefully well-hidden) annoyance feeling irritated that they had doubts that we could help them.  Well, maybe my friend and those patients are on to something.  I’m not suggesting we all spend hours of our already packed days being interviewed by prospective patients, but perhaps a few minutes spent answering an email or talking with a potential patient could go a long way in developing rapport and ensuring that the patient become an active participant in their rehab.

That’s what we all want, isn’t it?

And then, just like that, you’ve become, “my physical therapist.”