How to Find a Good Physical Therapist Near Me

A good physical therapist near you can aid in your recuperation from injuries, illnesses, or medical conditions that affect your ability to move and function by reducing, managing, or eliminating your pain, developing your mobility, and providing you with several other health benefits. According to the guidelines published by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, people who are physically active for at least 150 minutes a week have a 33% lower risk of mortality. Lack of physical activity has been linked to an increased risk of many chronic diseases, including type-2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and dementia. While many healthy people can achieve 150 minutes of activity, individuals that just had surgery, sustained an injury, or have other forms of pain-inducing impairments are typically not able to achieve this level of activity without the help of a physical therapist.

Before you hire a physical therapist near you, it is crucial to determine that this individual is qualified to guide you through the process of physical rehabilitation. To ensure that you hire a physical therapist, you should ask the following questions:

  1. Are You Licensed, Registered, or Certified?

    Physical therapists in the United States are typically required to obtain a license before they can practice in any state in the country. The requirements for obtaining a physical therapist's license vary by state. However, they generally include passing the National Physical Therapy Examination administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy and completing mandatory continuing education requirements to maintain the issued licenses. You can contact your state's licensing authority to find out whether there are other specific requirements for obtaining and maintaining a physical therapist license in your locality.

    In addition to professional licenses, physical therapists may choose to be certified by a professional body such as the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialities, which provides specialized training in orthopedics, geriatrics, and sports. Being certified by a professional board shows that the physical therapist has achieved the knowledge, skill, and deep understanding required for specific areas of physiological health. Finally, physical therapists may also belong to professional associations like the American Physical Therapist Association. Although it is not compulsory to belong to a professional association, physical therapists that are members of a professional association tend to be more honest in dealing with patients.

  2. How Much Does a Physical Therapist Cost?

    The cost of hiring a physical therapist in the United States ranges from $20 - $350 per session. In many cases, this will also include the cost of using special equipment and initial assessment. The total cost of hiring a physical therapist is generally dependent on factors like the physical therapist's reputation and the type of condition being treated. In addition to this, the cost of hiring a physical therapist also varies depending on whether you are paying out of pocket or your insurance company is covering the treatment.

    When contemplating hiring a physical therapist near you, there are specific steps you can take to ensure that you do not exceed your budget for it. These include:

    • Consider visiting a community clinic or other health care facility: If your insurance does not cover physical therapy, you can visit community clinics and other health care facilities that offer low-cost physical therapy treatments. You may also visit physical therapist training centers that provide free supervised physical therapy sessions to train their students.
    • Utilize your health insurance: If you have health insurance, there is a possibility that the insurance company will cover 60 -80% of the total cost. Note that this insurance coverage is usually only valid after you have paid the yearly deductible to your medical professional or clinic.
    • Choose a physical therapist from a list of recommended professionals: There is always a possibility that your insurance company will provide you with a list of physical therapists. Choosing a professional from this list saves you money as most of these physical therapists provide discounts on expenses that are not covered by your insurance company
    • Exercising at home: If your insurance coverage does not cover physical therapy, you can reduce your total expenses for physical rehabilitation by exercising at home. The more exercise you do at home, the fewer appointments you will require. It is always a good idea to take notes during your meeting with a physical therapist to achieve this. This way, you will only need a few sessions to learn the muscle training exercise you can practice at home.
    • Ask your primary care doctor for referrals: You can also reduce the total cost of physical rehabilitation by asking your primary care doctor for a qualified and affordable physical therapist near you. Many physical therapists work with doctors, so the chances of finding affordable physical therapists from your doctor are very high.

What Are Common Physical Therapist Expenses?

Besides the standard rates for the services of a physical therapist, you may incur several additional expenses during physical rehabilitation. These include:

  • Transportation expenses: When you hire a physical therapist for home services, there is always the possibility that you are going to incur additional fees to cover the transportation expenses that the physical therapist will have to make to get to your location.
  • Equipment expenses: While the bulk of equipment is available during your visit to the physical therapist, you may be required to purchase some items. These equipment aid home exercise and they include resistance bands, exercise balls, hot and cold packs, and rotating tables.
  • Variable expenses: Many physical therapists provide additional services like fitness and wellness programs, sports performance enhancement, health education classes, and prevention programs. It would be best to always speak with your physical therapist to find out the additional service you need and how much these would cost.

Depending on your physical therapist, some of these expenses may be calculated into the total cost of booking your sessions or you may be charged separately for them. Therefore, you should always confirm from your physical therapist how you will be billed for any additional expenses and whether there are conditions on how and when you can make these payments.

Who Will Do the Work?

When you are contemplating hiring a physical therapist, there is always a possibility that you will get recommendations on who to hire from your primary care doctor, clinic, or family and friends. It is always important to find out whether the physical therapist is qualified, experienced, and competent to handle your condition. As such, you should take certain steps to confirm that you are hiring the right person. First, you should ask the physical therapist if they are licensed and certified. Request proof of this and contact the agency or organization that issued the license or certificate to verify the information. Be wary of any physical therapist that refuses to provide proof of licensure and certification. It is always a good idea to find out whether the therapist has treated patients with conditions similar to yours in the past and ask for references to verify the claim. You should also ask the physical therapist about their area of specialization and the type of program they will use to treat your situation. Do not hesitate to look for another physical therapist if you are not comfortable with the type of program the physical therapist you want to hire intends to use for treatment.

What Qualifications Should a Physical Therapist Have?

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are currently 220,870 employed physical therapists in the country. These physical therapists are required to have a bachelor's degree in recreation and fitness, health care, or any other related field and also obtain a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. These programs last for three years and they typically include courses in neuroscience, pharmacology, and biomechanics. After completing the program, physical therapists are expected to enroll in clinical residency programs that provide additional training and information in their individual areas of specialization.

In addition to this, physical therapists who have completed the residency program may voluntarily enroll in a fellowship program. Most professional fellowships provide extensive clinical experience, mentoring, and short-term opportunities that focus on the professional development of the physical therapist. Physical therapists can find available fellowship or residency programs in their localities via the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Program Directory.

Will You Provide References?

Before you hire a physical therapist, you should always ask for a list of references. This should include the names, addresses, and phone numbers of past clients. You should also ask the physical therapist the type of services they offered to these clients. Do not hesitate to contact at least two individuals on the reference list to verify whether the physical therapist is competent to handle your situation. You can ask questions like how long their appointment lasted, whether the appointment improved their situation and if the physical therapist handled their condition professionally. Doing this reduces your chances of hiring a physical therapist that is not qualified.

In addition to this, you can also visit third-party review sites like the Better Business Bureau and Yelp to find physical therapists. Searching for a physical therapist on these sites enables you to see what others have said about the physical therapist you want to hire, including how competent they are and if they have had good relationships with their past clients.

Quick Facts about Physical Therapists

2020 Median Pay
$90,010 per year, $43.75per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education
Doctoral or professional degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
On-the-job Training
Number of Jobs, 2019
Job Outlook, 2019-29
18% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2019-29

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Experts Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Physical Therapists

Is a Physical Therapist a Doctor?

No, a physical therapist is not a doctor. Physical therapists are often mistaken to be doctors because they perform a similar function as doctors, which includes restoring the physical and mental health of their patients. However, physical therapists achieve this by encouraging and recommending physical and mental exercises. In contrast, doctors restore the physical and mental health of patients by running diagnostic tests, prescribing medications, performing surgeries, and providing clinical advice to patients. Also, even though physical therapists may obtain a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, they are not trained or certified to prescribe drugs or perform surgery.

What Happens in a Physiotherapy Session?

In a typical physiotherapy session, the physical therapist first assesses the nature and severity of the patient's condition by asking the patient to walk around or do some simple exercises. The physical therapist will also ask questions concerning the patient's general health to determine whether there are pre-existing health conditions such as diseases or phobias to determine the method of treatment that will be most effective.

In addition to this, the physical therapist may provide massage therapy, hydrotherapy, schedule a routine exercise, or even use technology such as lasers and ultrasound, to improve the patient's condition. Finally, the physical therapist usually recommends a suitable exercise the patient can perform at home.

Why Should I Receive Physical Therapy for My Injury?

There are several reasons why you should receive physical therapy after sustaining an injury and they include:

  • For pain relief
  • To improve post-surgical outcomes
  • To prevent the build-up of scar tissues
  • To improve surrounding musculature and enhance mobility
  • To strengthen muscles and joints

How Long Is a Physiotherapy Session?

A typical physiotherapy session lasts between 30 to 60 minutes. However, this may be less depending on your current condition and the level of progress you make during the session.

What Key Questions Do Physical Therapists Ask?

Physical therapists are required to ask specific questions to understand the nature and extent of their patient's condition. These questions include:

  • What do you think is the cause of your injury?
  • Are you experiencing pain in the affected area?
  • Have you been noticing some symptoms?
  • Do you have any serious health conditions?
  • Do you have allergies that might affect your treatment?
  • Do you have a phobia while touching or moving the affected area?
  • What are you hoping to achieve after the session?

Is Physical Therapy Painful?

Physical therapy is usually not painful. However, because you are going to use parts of your injured body, physical therapy may sometimes be challenging.

What Should You Do after Physical Therapy?

There are several things you should do to reduce discomfort and continue the healing process after physical therapy. They include:

  • Drink enough water
  • Apply ice on the affected area after a session
  • Practice the movement strategies and exercise recommended by your physical therapist
  • Follow your physical therapist's advice on equipment to use during exercise

Will My Physical Therapy Be Covered by Insurance?

Yes, many physical therapists accept insurance payments. However, the extent to which your insurance will cover the cost of your physical therapy and total physical rehabilitation expenses depends on your insurance provider, and in some cases, you may have to pay part of this total cost out of pocket.

What's the Difference Between Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy

Physical therapists and occupational therapists provide different services. A physical therapist improves the patient's ability to move their body. In contrast, an occupational therapist enhances the client's ability to perform routine activities. A physical therapist also focuses on physical rehabilitation, while an occupational therapist focuses on mental health care and physical rehabilitation.