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What to look for in a physiotherapy center


Newswise – After an injury or surgery, physiotherapy often plays a vital role in recovery. It may also improve the physical condition and function of people with chronic pain. A personalized rehabilitation program can do a lot of good for patients, but not all facilities provide the same type or level of care.

“Physiotherapy centers are not all created equal, and many people don’t realize the importance of choosing the right therapist and the right facility for their needs,” says Zack Rogers, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCShead of the rehabilitation site Special Surgery Hospital Center for Rehabilitation and Performancewhich recently opened at HSS Long Island in Uniondale.

Some facilities may focus more on sports rehabilitation after a sports injury or surgery. Others have physical therapists with advanced training and certification in treating orthopedic conditions such as back pain, arthritis, tendon problems, or ligament sprains. Certified specialties range from pediatric physiotherapy to geriatric physiotherapy.

Some centers, such as the HSS, offer direct, one-to-one care. “When a patient comes in, I work exclusively with that person for the entire session,” says Rogers. “In other institutions, the therapist may give the patient exercises to do alone, treating several people at the same time.”

While patients who have worked out in the past may be fine with doing exercises on their own, others may prefer the undivided attention of a physical therapist who works with them all the time, Rogers says.

To find a physical therapy provider, people may receive a referral from their doctor or a friend who has had a positive experience. But it is up to many people to find a rehabilitation center on their own. The Internet can be a good place to start, as many firms list particular areas of expertise and other relevant information on their websites, Rogers says. They often show photos and may offer a virtual tour of the facility.

People often start by looking for a center in a convenient location that accepts their health insurance. Many states allow “direct access” to physical therapy services, which means people don’t need a doctor’s referral. The exception is when an individual has Medicare or a health insurance plan that requires a referral. Coverage may also be limited to the plan’s network facilities.

Convenience shouldn’t be the only consideration, says James Wyss, MD, PT, a former physical therapist who later earned a medical degree and specialized in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Wyss, who sees patients at HSS Long Island and specializes in treating patients with sports injuries and other painful conditions, says physical therapy is a balance of science, art and experience. “Some physiotherapists have areas of particular focus, with additional training and qualifications, and the right therapist can make all the difference in a patient’s progress,” says Dr Wyss, who is chief medical officer at the Long Island Nets team. “But patients also need to understand that they are also responsible for their recovery. They need to work with their physical therapist, communicate openly and follow their advice, as well as the advice of their doctor.”

Rogers agrees that it’s important to find a physical therapist you have a good relationship with. “Communication is key. Physiotherapy is a partnership, a team effort, and having that connection makes a big difference. I want people to feel comfortable enough to tell me what’s going on and how they feel, so I can treat them better,” says Rogers, who encourages his patients to call or email him with any questions or concerns.

HSS experts have developed a checklist for choosing a physical therapy facility:

  • Select the best practice for your needs. Call and ask questions to make sure there are physical therapists experienced in treating your specific problem and ask about this therapist in advance.
  • Ask who will be treating you and what the therapist’s experience is. Once you start physical therapy, make sure you receive care from a licensed physical therapist or licensed physical therapist assistant. It is best to receive care from the same therapist at each visit.
  • Try to schedule a time to visit the facility before starting therapy. Virtual tours may also be available online.
  • Check if the installation is clean and well maintained. Do therapists wash their hands between patients? Is the equipment disinfected after each patient?
  • If coronavirus is a concern, check the facility’s safety policy ahead of time. Some practices also offer remote physiotherapy. The Special Surgery Hospital, for example, offers virtual labas well as individual distance training and ergonomic assessments of its workspace.
  • Are you comfortable with the noise level? If loud music is deafening and therapists are shouting instructions, it can distract you. Some people like the gym atmosphere of loud music, while others may find it intolerable.
  • Consider the general mood. Are therapists and therapy assistants actively working with patients, or are there people waiting to be treated?
  • Do the people who work there wear a name badge with their job title? They are required to do so in many states, including New York.
  • Ask about the cancellation policy. Some facilities charge a fee for canceling an appointment.
  • Consider how quickly you can get an appointment. If you have to wait longer than a week or two, you might be better off finding a place where you can start earlier.

Experts also point out that you should be assessed and treated by a licensed physical therapist who has completed many years of study and training to obtain the doctorate required to practice. The physical therapist should develop a personalized plan to meet your specific needs and goals. PT assistants are also trained and licensed, and they can work with your therapist to provide care after your assessment.

You shouldn’t receive treatment from an unlicensed physical therapy assistant or technician, Rogers says. Assistants help physical therapists with tasks such as basic administrative tasks, preparing treatment areas, and escorting patients into the clinic, but they are not legally allowed to provide treatment or teach patients exercises . If you are unsure of the credentials of the person treating you, you have the right to ask.

You should also receive instructions on exercises to do at home. The therapist can provide handouts, a link to a video showing the correct movements, or some other form of instruction to ensure you are doing the exercises correctly.

HSS experts say that if you ever feel uncomfortable or an exercise or treatment is painful, you should talk about it. If you feel the physiotherapist is not spending enough time with you, seems distracted, or is back and forth between you and other patients, you may want to find someone who provides more personalized care and attention.

About RSS

HSS is the world’s first academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its heart is the Hospital for Special Surgery, ranked #1 in Orthopedics nationally (for the 13th consecutive year), #3 in Rheumatology by US News & World Report (2022-2023), and Best Orthopedic Hospital Pediatrics of NY, NJ and CT by US News & World Report List of “Best Children’s Hospitals” (2022-2023). In a survey of healthcare professionals in over 20 countries by Newsweek, HSS is ranked #1 worldwide in orthopedics for a second consecutive year (2022). Founded in 1863, the hospital has the lowest complication and readmission rates in the nation for orthopedics, and among the lowest infection rates. HSS was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Services from the American Nurses Credentialing Center five consecutive times. A subsidiary of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut, and the Long Island and Westchester County areas of New York State, as well as Florida. . In addition to patient care, HSS is at the forefront of research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute includes 20 laboratories and 300 staff members who focus on advancing musculoskeletal health through the prevention of tissue degeneration, repair and regeneration. The HSS Innovation Institute strives to realize the potential of new drugs, therapies and devices. The HSS Education Institute is a trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal knowledge and research for physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, college students and consumers in more than 145 countries. The institution collaborates with medical centers and other organizations to advance the quality and value of musculoskeletal care and to make world-class SSS care more widely available nationally and internationally. www.hss.edu.

About HSS Long Island

HSS Long Island, the Uniondale location of the Hospital for Special Surgery, provides world-class orthopedic care in a convenient location for area residents. Located in the Omni Building in Uniondale, off Hempstead Turnpike via Meadowbrook Parkway, patients can access HSS’s top orthopedic and sports medicine specialists for diagnostic exams, pre- and post-operative appointments or treatment needs continuous. HSS Long Island offers care by 32 physicians specializing in adult joint reconstruction and replacement, foot and ankle, hand and upper extremity, pain management, pediatric orthopedics, physiatry, the spine and sports medicine. Radiology and imaging services are available on site, including MRI. A new state-of-the-art HSS Physiotherapy Center has recently opened on the site. Visit www.hss.edu/longisland