“The quality of life is more important than life itself” Alex Carrel
“Our job is improving the quality of life, not just delaying death.” Robin Williams
If you’ve ever lost any functional aspect of your body due to injury, illness or age then you‘re familiar with frustration. When the ability to perform at a certain level is taken away from you it doesn’t just affect your body but also weighs on your mind. This can greatly affect your emotional state as well as any other aspect of life that your physical performance is tied into.
Most people recognize that the ability to return from an injury is incredibly important to your career as a professional athlete.
The truth is that the ability to recover from an injury is incredibly important to everyone-no matter what station in life you happen to occupy.
Good physical health contributes to emotional health
When you find a person who can facilitate restoring your physical health there are a series of benefits that topple into place like dominos. Once you see you’re not stuck in the land of physical dysfunction your confidence soars. You become hopeful, faithful, your stress reduces, your frustration subsides and your happiness grows.
If you find a good physiotherapist that can effectively improve your physical condition, they become your personal modern-day miracle maker.
When it comes to finding a WSIB physiotherapy clinic in any big city the competition is quite fierce. There are dozens of physiotherapy clinics within a 5-block radius in every direction. The real issue is not about availability, but about who to trust with caring for your body. Want to know how to find a great physiotherapist?
Follow these guidelines to make the best choice when deciding which physiotherapist is right for you.
Do they provide an effective Program of Care?
Does the physiotherapist you’re seeing have a plan for each stage of your recovery? Despite the fact that each patient is different, a good physiotherapist will have an established Program of Care.
For example, if you were looking for a physiotherapist in Toronto and happened to find Global Health Physiotherapy Clinic you would see its 5 Level Program of Care directly on the website.
- Manual Therapy
- Active Exercise Program
- Pain Control Program
- Educational Program
- Custom Home Exercise Program
This is a general template for most systems of recovery. If your physical therapist doesn’t follow a system remotely close to this, consider it a red flag.
A good physiotherapist is able to walk you through each step of your program. From the moment your injury or condition is diagnosed, there should be clear communication about what is causing the problem and how they intend to solve it.
If you look at the Program of Care above, education and home exercise are a part of the system. If you don’t fully understand the problem or solution, how can you fully recover? If you’re left in the dark you run the risk of repeating the same mistakes and not doing your homework effectively.
Make sure your physiotherapist is licensed
Have you ever seen the first Batman movie, where Joker goes into a shady basement to have plastic surgery? Unfortunately, things aren’t always what they seem. Not all unlicensed physiotherapists work out of a dimly lit shady basement. You might not see it coming but it happens.
In both Canada and the US, you have to be licensed to practice physiotherapy. This means that by law, you’re required to have graduated with a degree from a physiotherapy school. In Canada, physiotherapists are required to have passed the “Physiotherapy National Exam” AND you must be in good standing with the provincial College Of Physiotherapists.
Doing a background check on your physiotherapist isn’t the first thing people think of but the truth is there are people out there practicing illegally. Who’s to say exactly why they don’t have their affairs in order. Maybe yours happens to be a physiotherapist. Do you really want to take that chance with your body?
If you’re in Ontario you can find out whether your physiotherapist is registered and in good standing by going to this link and searching for their name.
Is there more than one “great” physiotherapist in the clinic?
When it’s possible to go to a clinic and be happy with any of the physiotherapists that work there, it’s a tell-tale sign of a high-quality environment. The best physiotherapists are genuine about their motivation to help and are effective at what they do. They generally surround themselves with other like-minded individuals.
When you have a group of effective physiotherapists, they are constantly motivating each other and raising the bar for the standard of work they do. There’s a high possibility that they share their results and continue to learn from one another. A group of talented physiotherapists under one roof is an excellent place to be for recovery.
Consider customer service a major aspect of your experience
It’s not the first thing you think of when you’re looking for a good physiotherapist but nonetheless, it makes a big difference. If you have third-party insurance or are making a WSIB claim, you can get buried in the paperwork. This can leave you frustrated with the whole experience.
If your physiotherapist knows the system and handles direct billing and WSIB claims it makes your life ten times easier. You only need to worry about restoring your health and can leave the rest of the paperwork headaches to the professionals.
Check reviews for insight into the therapists quality of care
We live in a transparent society. Everyone wants to know the truth. We appreciate and value the truth about the companies we buy from and the service providers who care for us. Reviews are an excellent way to get the inside scoop on the therapist you’re considering.
Anyone can get a few good reviews. In fact, there is a lot of tampering when it comes to Google reviews, however, you can’t hide the bad ones! Any half-decent physiotherapist who has been around for a while should be able to accumulate a respectable cross-section of reviews. If they don’t… red flag!
It’s natural for negative reviews to pop up once in a while. It’s an inevitable aspect of doing business. What you want to see is how the physiotherapists respond to the negative reviews. This is where you can find some gold nuggets!
Do they show concern and respond accordingly? Do they respond at all?! What’s their side of the story?
If your physio has been around you should be able to find trends and patterns in the reviews. If patients are genuinely reviewing the clinic (or therapist) it should be fairly clear whether or not they are doing a good job.
Use those insights to your advantage and make an informed decision on whether you want to trust them with the health of your body.
Is your physiotherapist “right” for you?
At the end of the day, you need to make a decision on whether your physiotherapist is the “right fit” for you. Everyone has different needs. If you’re going to spend an entire recovery program with a physiotherapist you want to make sure you feel good about the care you’re getting.
For example, if you’re a high-level athlete it is preferable that you see someone who has more experience dealing with athletes. Someone who has had 15 years with the Toronto Maple Leaf’s hockey team is going to get your body back to a high level of performance faster than a physio working with seniors every day.
The level of care is different. The environment is different. The intensity is different. If you’re trying to get over an injury and the physiotherapist has you working out with seniors-how would you feel about that?
On the flip side of that coin, how would you feel about your grandma being worked out with the same intensity as Tie Domi (the Maple Leaf’s official goon back in the day)?
The bottom line is you want grandma getting the treatment that’s “right” for her.
Get the most out of your physiotherapy treatment
Choosing the right physiotherapist is a big deal. If you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to correct it. Your body is your own and you only have one!
Look for the signs of a great physiotherapy clinic as well as the red flags. After reading this article, it should be obvious how to find the best physiotherapist that’s right for you.
Micahel Liougas has been a licensed physiotherapist in Toronto for almost 20 years. He has treated thousands of patients for common conditions and injuries related to the musculoskeletal system.