New York, NY—July 2, 2014
After an injury or surgery, rehabilitation is often a critical factor on the road to recovery. "Since physical therapy is usually a weekly commitment and may be for an extended period of time, convenience is an important consideration," says JeMe Cioppa-Mosca, vice president of Rehabilitation at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. "However, many other factors should also be taken into account when deciding where to go. Not all facilities provide the same type or level of care."
"It's important for people to do their homework before choosing a facility," said Robin Benick, clinical supervisor of the Hospital for Special Surgery Rehabilitation Network. The network, which marked its 20th anniversary this year, is a resource for individuals looking for a facility in their community that meets high standards of care. Information about PT practices in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida that belong to the network is available at www.hss.edu/rehab-network.asp.
"Many people don't realize the importance of choosing the right therapist and the right facility for their needs," Cioppa-Mosca says. "Recovery from an injury is hard work. Although most physical therapists are well-trained and provide good care, practices are not all the same. Falling into the wrong hands can do more harm than good."
"Physical therapy is a balance between science, art and experience. Certain physical therapists have special areas of interest and additional training in certain techniques," explained James F. Wyss, MD, PT, a physiatrist at the Hospital for Special Surgery Physician Office in Uniondale, Long Island and at the main hospital in Manhattan. A physiatrist is a medical doctor specializing in nonsurgical treatment of muscle and joint problems.
"The right therapist can make all the difference between failure and success," he says. "But patients also need to understand that they are responsible for their recovery as well. They need to work together with their physical therapist, communicate openly, and follow their advice, as well as the advice of their physician."
It's important to find a physical therapist with whom you have a good rapport, according to Benick. "Communication is key. It's a partnership," she says.
Cioppa-Mosca and Benick offer the following tips when choosing a physical therapy practice:
Once you begin physical therapy, the experts stress that you'll do best with someone with whom you get along well. They also point out that you should be evaluated and treated by a licensed physical therapist. Physical therapy assistants are also trained, licensed professionals, and your therapist may work with an assistant to provide your care.
You should not be receiving treatment from an unlicensed physical therapy aide or technician, according to Benick. Aides help physical therapists with tasks such as basic administrative duties, getting treatment areas ready and escorting patients within the clinic, but they are not legally permitted to provide treatment or instruct patients in exercises. If you're not sure of the credentials of the person treating you, you have the right to ask.
If you feel the physical therapist is not spending enough time with you, appears distracted, or is bouncing back and forth between you and other patients, you may want to find someone who offers more personalized care and attention. The experts say that if you ever feel uncomfortable or if an exercise or treatment is painful, you should speak up.
You should also receive instruction on exercises to do at home. The therapist may provide handouts, a link to a video demonstrating the correct movements, or another form of instruction to ensure you are doing the exercise correctly.
About Hospital for Special Surgery
Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) is the world’s largest academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. HSS is nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics, No. 3 in rheumatology and No. 7 in geriatrics by U.S. News & World Report (2015-2016), and is the first hospital in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center four consecutive times. HSS has one of the lowest infection rates in the country. HSS is an affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College and as such all Hospital for Special Surgery medical staff are faculty of Weill Cornell. The hospital's research division is internationally recognized as a leader in the investigation of musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases. Hospital for Special Surgery is located in New York City and online at www.hss.edu.