Health and Wellness

Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Physical Therapy

Some think that physical therapy is only for those who are recovering from surgery, had an accident, or maybe even just for athletes. And while physical therapy can certainly help in those situations, it offers benefits any time someone is experiencing pain, weakness or mobility concerns.

UW Health physical therapist Brian Bradley explains that often, pain doesn’t “just happen.” Tissue overload – a possible cause of pain – occurs over time, or repetitive use wears on the joints or tendons. Physical therapy can help through stretching and strengthening exercises with the goal of helping the body to be able to move and function without pain, or with reduced pain. But it does take time and work to reach that point, which can cause some people to think the therapy isn’t working.

Physical therapists – or PTs – have different backgrounds and skillsets, which can influence how they treat patients. For example, Melissa Fischer, a colleague of Bradley’s, often recommends yoga as part of her therapy plans to help patients improve range of motion, stability and flexibility. If you’ve tried physical therapy once before, both Bradley and Fischer suggest it can be helpful to try physical therapy with a different PT. “A different set of eyes may provide a new perspective and different treatment, which may be the key to your recovery,” says Bradley.

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Bradley adds it may not even be necessary to see a doctor first. “What many people don’t realize is that if they’ve had a minor orthopedic injury, such as a sprained ankle or pulled muscle, they can come directly to physical therapy through ‘direct access’.”

Fischer suggests that it can still be helpful to check in with insurance to determine coverage for physical therapy. “You don’t necessarily need to know all of the ins and outs,” she says, “but it is helpful to know if you have any limits to the number of visits or if certain treatments are covered.”

Tips to Get the Most Out of Physical Therapy

When starting physical therapy, both Bradley and Fischer offer a few tips to get the most out of the treatment.

Be a good historian. At the first appointment, the PT will do an examination to see what’s going on with the body and they will ask questions to learn when the pain started, or in the case of surgery, what lead to the surgery. It is helpful when patients can say when their pain started since certain conditions are more easily identified if a timeline is given.

Set goals. Think about goals for treatment – is it to return to a particular sport or activity, or the ability to walk the dog without pain? The goals will help determine the course of treatment.

Commit to your appointments. Both Bradley and Fisher explain that the number of appointments will vary depending on how complex or severe the injuries or surgeries. A minor injury may only require two or three visits, while severe injuries may include 20 or more visits over several weeks or months. How quickly patients progress will depend on whether they are attending their appointments and their recommended exercises.

Do the homework. When it comes to physical therapy, patients do have to do some work outside of the visit. The exercises the PT recommends are to help improve muscle strength and joint mobility and often require repetition and consistency over time to see results. If patients don’t follow the directions, it is difficult to know why their symptoms may not be improving – and as a result, it’s difficult to know how to adjust the treatment plan.

Find a dedicated space to do the work. Fischer suggests having a dedicated space to do the exercises. Whether it’s a gym or a spare room in the house, having the space to move and focus on the exercises can help.

Don’t skip. Patients may be tempted to skip their appointment when they’re experiencing pain. But Bradley comments that is precisely when patients should go. PTs are highly skilled in assessing and effectively treating pain and can adjust the treatment for the day to help.

Speak up and ask questions. Some people may think an ache or pain is normal, and not mention it to their PT. But Bradley says sometimes even the smallest details can help solve the largest problem. And, he advises, ask questions because PTs want to make sure a patient’s concerns are addressed and that everyone is comfortable with the plan moving forward.

Stick to the topic. Both Fischer and Bradley say it’s common for patients to come in for one problem and then mention another problem that is bothering them. While PTs can treat multiple areas during a single visit, a new issue is really going to need its own evaluation to determine the best course of treatment. It’s also possible it will need to be pre-approved through insurance so the PT will often recommend scheduling a separate time to evaluate what might be going on.

Keep the lines of communication open. Depending on the practice, physical therapy may be a part of a patient’s electronic health record. At UW Health, for example, physical therapy appointments are recorded through MyChart. Fischer suggests using MyChart as a way of communicating with PTs between appointments if a problem comes up, something causes pain or the exercises are confusing. That way, it is possible to keep the exercises going rather than having to wait to clarify things at the next appointment.

Keep up the good work. The biggest risk of injury is a previous history of an injury. Once treatment has concluded, PTs can recommend how to prevent injuries in the future through things like exercises, adjusting equipment like a bicycle set up, looking at running gait and more.

For more information about physical therapy services offered at UW Health complete our online form.

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  • Rehabilitation (Physical Therapy)
  • Sports Medicine Physical Therapy and Athletic Training
  • Sports Rehabilitation Specialty Clinics

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Date Published: 10/18/2018
News tag(s): sports, wellness, sportsrehab, healthy bodies, brian bradley

How to Get the Most Out of Physical Therapy

There are often misconceptions about what physical therapy is and how to get the most out of treatment. Read on to learn more!

The first thing is understanding the definition of physical therapy as defined by the American Physical Therapy Association.

“Physical Therapy can teach patients how to prevent or manage their conditions so that they will achieve long-term health benefits. Physical Therapists can examine each case and develop a plan, using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability.”
Physical therapists provide patients with the tools so they can become independent and live a full life. The recovery process can be shortened with full engagement from the patient. The following are some simple steps to ensure you get the most out of any physical therapy treatment.

Understand your diagnosis
More often than not, when patients start physical therapy, it is because they have pain. That pain is a symptom, and there is usually a complex underlying condition causing the pain. After a full evaluation, your physical therapist will be able to provide you with a physical therapy diagnosis. The diagnosis will be what dictates the treatment interventions. These interventions will also vary slightly based upon the goals of each patient. A better understanding of your diagnosis will let you be an active part of your treatment plan. Your diagnosis will also determine how often (frequency) and how long (duration) you will need to undergo treatment.

Attend your appointments
During the initial evaluation, a plan of care is set with a frequency and duration of treatment. Appointments will be scheduled according to your plan of care. During these appointments, time is spent on specific treatments that often cannot be performed at home. This includes patient education, manual therapy, higher level exercises using clinic equipment, and progression of the plan of care. Your physical therapists will get to know more about your lifestyle and further tailor the treatment to be specific to your diagnosis and needs.

Each appointment is about more than exercise
When you attend therapy, you will perform exercises, but treatment is about more than just a workout out. Your physical therapist is there to help you learn about your injury, the healing process, and how to prevent future injury. There should always be a clear plan of what you as the patient need to be doing outside of the clinic to ensure a sufficient recovery.

Home exercise program performance
During your first visit, your therapists will create a unique written home exercise program for you to work on when you’re not at therapy. Our company uses an online program with pictures and videos of the exercises. Our software also allows the patient to ask the treating therapists questions between appointments if needed. These exercises are going to make the difference in the recovery process.

Be honest with your physical therapist
If any problems arise during treatment with things such as appointments, exercises, or changing pain, let your therapists know. They will work with you to better meet your needs. Even something as simple as telling your therapist, “I didn’t do my home exercise program,” will let them know that progression during that visit may not be the best course of treatment. If there is excellent communication between the patient and therapist recovery will happen more quickly.

Keep exercising
After completion of treatment, it is important to continue to perform the exercises. As long as you complete exercises once or twice a week, you will prevent regression.
These are some simple things that you as a patient can do to ensure you get most of the time and money that is spent on physical therapy. You are in control of your recovery. If there is something causing your pain don’t hesitate to contact us: 866-412-5554.

Content provided by Dr. Evan Reinert, PT, DPT


This is a guest post by Randal Glaser, PT, DPT, OCS, CEAS I. He is the Co-founder of Jetset Rehab Education, a continuing education company for Rehab Professionals. You can check out Jetset’s blog and podcast (which will both feature yours truly soon!). Follow Jetset on twitter and instagram for exciting con-ed opportunities in exotic locations, and for Randal’s incredible photography skills.

As a Physical Therapist, I’ve worked with – and treated – a lot of patients. I’ve had experiences with satisfied patients who have called me a miracle worker. On the flip side, I’ve also had patients who disagreed with my treatment altogether. And then there are those who were simply indifferent. If I’m completely honest with myself, I can reflect on – and learn from – each experience, regardless of the outcome, to improve patient care moving forward.

Over the years, I’ve taken notes on how to better my interactions with patients to get the best possible results. I’ve also noticed that, although each patient is unique, those who have successful outcomes share a common set of attitudes and disciplines.

I’d like to share with you these best-patient-practices, which I hope can serve as a guide to help you get the most out of your time in physical therapy.

Tip #1: Have a goal.

You wouldn’t run a race without a finish line, would you? Rehabilitation is a lot like starting a race. Without identifying the finish line, there isn’t a clear direction to start running. If you don’t have an objective, the treatment is without purpose and measuring your progress becomes impossible.

When I ask my patients what their goals are, a lot of them tell me they want to be pain-free. This is nice, but I challenge them to go deeper. What is the most important thing that their pain limits them from doing? How long until this pain starts to limit them?

Once addressed, I can direct their treatment to meet the goal. Together, we also establish when therapy is successfully completed.

Tip #2: Be focused.

There’s a plethora of treatment options out there…especially in California. It’s common to have patients come to an appointment, saying that they treat their pain with a Chiropractor on Mondays, an Acupuncturist on Tuesdays, a Massage Therapist on Wednesdays, a Reiki Healer on Thursdays and me, the Physical Therapist, on Fridays. This is in addition to their Doctor-prescribed cortisone injections and seeing a Personal Trainer at the gym.

Personally, I would prefer not to join this practitioner soup. If a patient gets better, it’s hard to identify which treatment is responsible for this improvement. And when the patient gets worse, is it the combination of Acupuncture with my treatment that caused their decline? Or is it the new exercise the Personal Trainer gave them? Perhaps the Chiropractor is working on more mobility while the Trainer is working on core stability.

I can admit that I’m not smart enough to figure out how all of these practitioner treatments co-exist. Since it’s too confusing for me, I can’t muddle through the various treatments to get you to your goal (see tip #1). I imagine that if several chefs were asked to add their best ingredients to a meal at the same time, the meal would be ruined.

Get focused. I don’t need to be the one you see while you stop seeing everyone else. If you choose a Massage Therapist over my treatment, I honestly don’t mind. This is what you have to do to get focused. If you get better, problem solved! If not, move on to the next. Remember, the objective is to figure out what works for YOU. Limit your sources to one at a time. This way, the cause and effect of your treatments will be clear.

Bonus Advice: We all know family members have a lot of advice for us. Part of staying focused is to not listen to them. They have good intentions and want you to get better. But they haven’t reviewed your medical chart; they didn’t take a proper history of your issue and may or may not be a medical professional. I have found the best way to appease them is to say, “that’s a great idea! I’ll consider that. Thanks!” This way, they feel validated and you haven’t lost focus by trying another rehab approach.

Tip #3: Be an active participant to your treatment.

Sometimes the pain is just too great and doing exercises sounds like a bad idea. Guess what? You may be right. With an acute flair up, it’s not the best time to start new and “exciting” exercises. This is when a Physical Therapist will limit the exam and use a more passive approach (e.g. you lie down and receive treatment). Once you are out of this phase of healing, the active rehab starts – this means to actively prevent the symptoms from coming back.

If you’re still requesting passive treatment several weeks after your initial visit, you haven’t fully started active rehab. Go back to your goal (tip #1). Is lying on the table getting treatment going to get you to this goal?

Tip #4: Participate…mentally.

In addition to physical participation, mental participation is imperative. Throughout your day think about what activities make your pain worse and which ones make it dissipate.

Identifying the problem is essential to solving it. Determine the problem with details to help your Physical Therapist figure out where the pain originates. The patient who is mentally active in figuring out their problem is more likely to solve it. Ignoring the problem is a great way to never solve it.

Copious amounts of pain medication, ignoring when or why the pain gets worse, and continuing to “push through the pain” are great ways to ignore the problem. Your mindset is as important as anything.

Tip #5: Trust yourself!

I always tell my patients that they know their bodies better than I do. Trust yourself above all other advice you receive. There’s a lot of advice out there, and if you’re not careful, you can do something that aggregates the issue. Trust yourself and do what feels right.

In my clinic, I will give advice but not orders. I suggest a home exercise program and ergonomic tips and then allow the patient to decide what they want to do. If they feel that the suggestion was not a good one, I want them to tell me why they think so. After all, you the patient know best, you have been living with your body your whole life.

Randal Glaser is a physical therapist for Kaiser Permanente in Santa Clarita, California. He is the co-founder of Jetset Rehab Education, a company that provides high-level continuing education classes for rehab professionals. You can follow his blog here: Twitter: @JetsetEducation Instagram: @JetsetRehabEd

2013 Holiday Tipping Guide for Health Care Workers

Dear Mr. Manners: Should I tip any of my health care providers ~ doctors, assistants, nurses, or home aides? If so, how much? If not, why not? And while I’m asking — how about a personal trainer, au pair or hair stylist? — Name withheld

A: This question was already in my mailbox when my brother, sister and I faced a new dilemma this holiday season: Should we tip our father’s home health care aide? We really didn’t know whether it was allowed by the agency; whether a cash gift would be best or, if not cash, then what? When I posted this question to my Facebook page, I discovered that many of you faced similar quandaries and confusion. Before I get to my holiday tipping cheat sheet below, let me remind everyone of the purpose of tipping: Tips are a way to say thank you for service well done, can help make up for a provider’s low pay, and (for some) may serve as an “incentive” to get preferential treatment in the year to come.

Here’s what some of you had to say on Facebook:

  1. “All pregnant couples get the advice to pack gifts in your hospital bag to give to the maternity ward nurses. And I was so glad I took this advice! I remember thinking that my little boxes of chocolates could never express the extreme gratitude I felt – because these nurses got me through a moment of overwhelming fear and joy and excitement and pain.”
  2. “Money wouldn’t have felt right as a tip in my health care situation — the human and emotional connection that happens in these vulnerable moments is not about money. So I think, if you want to thank a health care provider, it’s a GIFT that should be given.
  3. “I tipped my physical therapist, who works at a large hospital-based clinic, after quite a few sessions. I thought he went beyond my docs in diagnosing my issues, and his attention was constant and sensitive. I gave him an iTunes gift certificate at my final session.”
  4. “I have made donations to a nonprofit connected to my medical clinic, and that seemed appreciated.”

It’s a good idea to approach these situations by first checking on any gift-giving policies by calling an administrator or looking at the provider’s website. Also, I urge everyone to pay attention to his or her own budgets. Rhonda Coleman, an esthetician friend of mine, says: “I hate to see people tip like they’re rock stars when they can’t afford it. I’d prefer that they just come see me as regularly as they can.” And remember: Different locales have different customs and traditions. If you’re unsure about what’s expected where you live ask a friend or colleague first.

The Tip Sheet

  • Doctors and nurses: No cash gifts here, please. Instead I like what this reader suggested: “My boyfriend is a surgeon and frequently receives non-monetary gifts from patients—everything from gift certificates to restaurants to concert and theatre tickets to homemade pies. These patients also often give things to the nurses, residents, etc.”
  • Nursing home aides: For service providers in an institution like a nursing home or an assisted living facility, you’re best off bringing in an edible gift that can be shared – whether a basket of (homemade) cookies and cakes or fruits and cheeses. That way aides on different shifts can also enjoy your largesse (by the way, don’t forget to leave a note of thanks with your name so they’ll know who it came from). I always try to choose foodstuffs that are both delicious and healthy.

While not strictly health care workers, let me give you the 411 on the other service providers you asked about:

  • Personal trainers: He or she works hard to make you look good, if not feel good. If you’re a regular client (weekly or bi-weekly), show your thanks with a tip equal up to one session. Ditto for massage therapists – again, though, only if you see them frequently (If not, consider $20 to $50).
  • Nannies and Au Pairs: Assuming they come to your apartment or home (or live with you), an extra week’s pay is customary. In addition, a handwritten note from you or a token gift from your little one is a nice touch.
  • Hair stylists and other beauty providers: My friend Lesley Jane Seymour, editor-in-chief of More magazine tells me: “For services that you receive on a regular basis, you can double up on a tip if you like. For example, my manicures in a walk-in place in the suburbs are $10 and I normally give $3 in tip so I would give $6 this time of year. If you have a long-term relationship with a stylist or colorist (someone you love) $50 to $100 seems right depending on where you live.”

As for the dilemma faced by my sibs and me over my dad’s home health care aide, we learned that he’s giving her a “bonus” of a week’s wages. In addition, we’ve decided to get her an American Express gift card (which can be used anywhere Amex is accepted) as our way of saying “thank you.”

What advice do you have when it comes to holiday tipping?

Are you interested in starting a career in the physical therapy field? Perhaps you are already a professional, seeking ways to sharpen your Physical Therapist skills and increase your success.

On the surface, a physical therapy job may seem quite straightforward.

However, there is much more to the job than meets the eye.

Physical Therapist skills are actually very wide-ranging!

You probably know that the fundamental skills needed to be a Physical Therapist require:

  • A passion for helping people
  • The commitment to rehabilitate
  • Helping maintain and develop a patient’s best possible physical health

Becoming a successful Physical Therapist includes honing a series of other attributes that can be applied to a variety of patient situations.

If you are planning on building or furthering a lucrative career in this field, use our physical therapist skills checklist and tips to strengthen your physical therapist skills.

SEE ALSO: How to Get Hired for the Highest Paying Physical Therapy Jobs

Knowledge-based Physical Therapist Skills

So, exactly what skills do you need to be a physical therapist? According to the College Foundation of North Carolina, the knowledge needed to be a physical therapist is based on three different sets of skills:

  • Basic
  • Transferable
  • Workplace

Basic Skills

This list includes general skills learned throughout the schooling years that play a role in the daily work of a Physical Therapist:

✓ Reading Comprehension

The science and techniques surrounding Physical Therapists constantly evolves. Having strong reading comprehension skills ensures your ability to pick up new information that can benefit your patients.

Make it a point to read one piece of literature per day. It can be a blog post, newspaper, magazine article, or favorite book. (Check out our Twitter feed for helpful work and lifestyle-related articles!)

✓ Communication (Listening)

While much of the job is physical, it is the Physical Therapist’s responsibility to listen to patients prior to and during diagnosis and treatment. Strong listening skills ensure the patient’s needs can be met.

Practice listening skills on a regular basis by asking patients to express their needs. They will trust you more with their health if they know you are hearing their concerns.

Transferable Skills

Some skills required to be a physical therapist actually translate into other professions. This list includes physical therapist skills. That ensures you can work well in a medical setting as a proactive team member.

✓ Giving health care instructions

✓ Operating medical diagnostic equipment

✓ Planning health care treatments

✓ Treating a wide variety physical problems

Grow your transferable skills when the opportunity arises. For example, if a co-worker needs assistance with something not normally under your job responsibilities, helping them means you gain a new skill.

SEE ALSO: Future of Physical Therapy Profession: 6 Exciting Career Insights

Workplace Skills

This physical therapy skills checklist includes skills you need in a workplace. They are more complex and specific to this field.

✓ Strength and Coordination

Physical Therapists can be on their feet, physically supporting patients, handling weights and equipment, and performing massage for multiple hours a day. To be successful in this field, you must have significant strength and coordination to perform the job without risking the well-being of the patients.

Include a regimen of breathing, stretching and exercise to your daily or weekly routine. This can also aid in the release of stress from a long day!

SEE ALSO: 10 Excellent Ways to Prevent Physical Therapist Burnout

✓ Providing Instruction

The ability to communicate treatment plans, reassure nervous patients and describe techniques is highly important for Physical Therapists.

Giving direction is one of the cornerstone skills of a physical therapist. The job includes a lot of coaching and inspiring, and the ability to clearly instruct patients is key.

Enhance your instructional skills by reading books or listening to podcasts by actual coaches. Whether sports-related, spiritual or professional, coaches know how to give direction and inspire and their techniques can help you.

Added Bonus: Technology Skills

In addition to the list above, the need for strong technical skills is on the rise.

With the introduction of healthcare apps, tablet-based patient tracking and new tech surfacing every day, the ability to adapt and utilize the newest technology are highly relevant.

Up until recent years, patients had to rely on written instructions they received as homework from their Physical Therapist after each session.

With smartphones, tablets, and laptops, all of that is history.

A home exercise program is a part of most treatment plans. Having the skills to create these plans using technology increases the ease with which patients can accomplish their treatment at home.

Embrace technology by exploring any number of apps on the market, specific to physical therapy. Share with your patients to facilitate an easier transition to home treatment.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Useful Physical Therapy Apps for Patients to Try

Career-Based Physical Therapist Skills

No matter where you are in your Physical Therapist career, there are ways for you to increase your chances for success.

In addition to the workplace skills already outlined, the following list includes techniques worth practicing on a regular basis to make the most of your career.

✓ Invest in Ongoing Education

Make an effort to keep advancing your education. Certain yearly continuing education is a requirement for a PTs. Above and beyond those courses, however, is an opportunity to choose courses that inspire and motivate you.

Look for courses that will help you hone your physical therapist skills along with niche specialties. By constantly acquiring new knowledge you can fine-tune your specialty and work on the cases that interest you the most.

Most importantly, make sure that the time you spend on continuing education is manageable.

Overdoing it can lead to burnout.

The goal is to use these educational opportunities to stay motivated and engaged, not to overdo it.

SEE ALSO: 10 Excellent Ways to Prevent Physical Therapist Burnout

As you move forward in your career, you may consider obtaining a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy (MPT) or even a Doctorate Degree (Doctor of Physical Therapy, DPT).

Those who are interested in obtaining a Master’s or Doctorate in Physical Therapy after having completed their initial PT education can return to school full time. The length of time it will take to acquire the next degree will depend on field experience.

To become a full-time student and seek either of these degrees, you must complete specific prerequisite undergraduate coursework. In most cases, you are already a licensed Physical Therapist and have verified experience in the field.

✓ Hone Your Interpersonal Skills

Science is only one part of being a physical therapist. Interpersonal skills are crucial to becoming (and staying) a competitive hire for a Physical Therapy practice.

Like many jobs, the physical therapy profession requires that you work well with co-workers in a variety of roles. In addition, you must also work very well with actual patients, adding to the value of practicing and executing strong social skills.

A list of ways to enhance interpersonal skills as outlined by explains that “there are several things you can do to strengthen your social skills and become a team player. These actions will not only help you make better connections at work, they’ll improve how others perceive you.”

Practice these three tips to stay sharp when it comes to communicating at work:

Have a positive outlook! Focus on showing off your upbeat attitude and a genuine smile. People are drawn to happiness. TIP 2
Express genuine appreciation. If a co-worker or patient has done something you appreciate, let them know. Showing others how much you care about them and their kind actions encourage reciprocation. TIP 3
Be aware of others’ situations. Listen to your co-workers and patients when they share personal information. Make an effort to congratulate them on achievements (birthdays, anniversaries) and provide compassion if the need arises. Small things like using first names and asking people for their opinions goes a long way.

People who work on developing strong interpersonal skills are usually more successful in both their professional and personal lives. Having the ability to show an employer the following things is immeasurable:

  • Working well with coworkers and future patients
  • Communicating effectively
  • Having a genuine respect for others

Be sure to keep your resume current with your skills in the event you choose to apply for more schooling or obtain new employment.

SEE ALSO: 6 Ways to Improve Your Physical Therapy Resume

✓ Stay Current on Field Issues and Research

Making a regular effort to stay current on physical therapy issues will go a long way for the growth of your career.

From newsworthy topics to medical research, the field is ever-changing and staying ahead of the curve is a skill that translates into multiple benefits.

Not only does this help you provide better care for your patients, it also makes you more valuable to your employer. They want to know that you have the knowledge to regularly bring fresh ideas to the table.

Always keep an eye on trending therapies, new treatments and industry news that you can share with your employer or coworkers. Post articles in your facility, or bring them up at a staff meeting.

Depending on your career goals, staying current offers you the opportunity to know which Physical Therapy specialties are growing and therefore compensated most attractively.

SEE ALSO: How to Get Hired for the Highest Paying Physical Therapy Jobs

Your goal may be to one day own your own practice.

With this skill comes the ability to become an opinion leader with influence. Get yourself there by practicing these skills paraphrased from an article by author and speaker Jennifer V. Miller:

  • “Maintain your internal and external networks. When you stay plugged into what’s going on with other professionals in your field, you learn about innovations and processes you may have overlooked. Devoting as little as one hour a week to connecting with others means you make nearly 50 contacts over the course of a year.
  • Look for inspiration in unusual places. Professionals who are in-the-know draw from unlikely sources to feed their minds. Go somewhere that is the complete opposite of your current life situation.
  • Learn how to use an RSS function like Google Reader. Subscribe to aggregator news services.”

If trending topics are of real interest to you, consider sharing your findings in a blog, on social media or both. As you will see, the time spent on these efforts will only further your credibility and industry knowledge.


Physical therapist skills encompass a wide variety of abilities ranging from medical, interpersonal, physical and academic.

Let’s review our high-level checklist to help strengthen your knowledge needed to be a physical therapist:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Communication and listening
  • Giving health care instructions
  • Operating medical diagnostic equipment
  • Planning health care treatments
  • Treating a wide variety physical problems
  • Strength and coordination
  • Providing instruction
  • Technology skills
  • Ongoing education
  • Honing interpersonal skills
  • Staying current on field research

Are there any skills you rely on to do your best work as a Physical Therapist?

Share them with us in the comments below!

You’re about to complete therapy and you are wondering what are the most appropriate gifts for therapists. What are the best gifts for Physical Therapists? How about selecting a good Occupational Therapy gift?

Your PT or OT appreciates knowing that you care enough to think about giving them a gift. While providing a physical gift isn’t necessary, it may be something that you really want to do for your therapist.

Thank You Gifts for Therapists

If you want to give a thank you gift to your PT or OT, consider these Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy gift ideas.

1. Write out a thank you card.

Simply receiving a thank you card can go a long way in showing your appreciation for the care you received from your PT pr OT.

2. Write your doctor a thank you card.

One of the best compliments you can give your therapist is to tell your physician how much you enjoyed the care you received from them. A quick note to your doctor will mean a lot to your therapist.

3. Write a positive review on Google or Facebook

Providing an honest review that highlights the great care you received can be a fantastic gift.

4. Refer a friend or family member.

Let you PT or OT know that you want to refer your friends and family to them and be sure to ask for a few cards. This will mean a lot to your therapist as it shows them how much you appreciated the care you received.

Physical & Occupational Therapy Gifts Under $20

Physical Therapy T-Shirt Gift Idea

If you really want to bring a physical gift, consider these smaller, but meaningful items. Just know that some therapists may not be comfortable receiving gifts as they don’t want it to somehow influence your treatment (as though it might elicit preferential treatment). If you decide to provide a physical gift, it would be best to provide them with the gift on your last appointment day.

(I didn’t include this t-shirt in the list, but thought I’d add a picture here. Most shirts are a little cheesy, but this one was kind of funny.)

8. Bring in a fun snack for the entire clinic (store bought veggie or fruit trays are always nice)

10. Small gift card ($20 or less) to Starbucks or Amazon.

What Not to Give To Your Therapist

1. Money – Cold hard cash.

While it may not be illegal to extend a monetary gift to your therapist, it may put your PT or OT in an awkward situation.

2. Alcohol

In some clinics, alcohol may not be allowed on site, so this might not be the one of best gifts for therapists to receive.

3. Family Heirlooms

Your may have the best intention when giving your therapist a personal item or family heirloom, but it may not be the best gift for your therapist. Keep family heirlooms in the family in order to avoid a potentially awkward situation for you and the therapist who may not feel comfortable accepting such a gift.

Christmas Gifts for Physical Therapists

If someone in your family is a Physical Therapist and you’re looking for a Christmas gift idea, look no further! Here are some of the best Christmas gifts for Physical Therapists, as recommended by a PT 😉

1. Bluetooth Headphones

Your therapist is most likely an active person, so a nice pair of headphones will be a great gift that’s under $30!

2. Audible Subscription

Many PTs work in a home health setting, driving 50 to 100+ miles a day. Giving an audiobook or a subscription to Audible will make that drive so much easier.

3. Titleist Golf Balls

If your therapist enjoys golf, you can bet they’ll enjoy a box of high quality golf balls. Throw a sleeve of golf balls in their stocking this year and maybe a few lessons if their golf game is anything like mine…

4. Apple Watch Stand

This is a must have for the PT who is sporting around an Apple Watch. You’ll be a hit and your PT will love having an extra charger in the clinic, car or at home.

5. Apple Watch Strap

Ok, one more thing for the Apple Watch. A nice leather strap is a great add on feature that will dress up any watch and won’t break the bank. Some straps are just $10 to $15, a great price for a very nice stocking stuffer!

6. Yeti Tumbler

Does your PT like coffee? What about water, do they drink water? 🙂 The Yeti tumbler will run about $30, but another great mug is the RTIC tumbler, which is just under $20. Take your pick – both are great gifts that will your PT will love.

7. Amazon Echo Dot

The echo is one of those gifts that are great to get even if you already have a smart speaker. It’s actually really nice to get a second smart speaker that you can put into another room, which makes the Echo a great gift that fits in your budget since it’s just under $50.

8. Specialty Coffee or Chocolate

Hard to go wrong with coffee or chocolate. If you go this route, make sure it’s packaged and shareable (avoid a giant slab of chocolate or novelty giant chocolate bar). A festive box like this will do:

9. Massage Gift Certificate

Being a PT can be a stressful and tiring job. It’s not uncommon to wake up sore and to experience our own aches and pains from performing treatments for our own patients. A gift certificate to receive a massage is one of the ultimate thank you gifts and an excellent holiday gift for a physical therapist!

10. Leather or Canvas Travel Bag

Buying a gift for a traveling PT? As someone who loves to travel, I enjoy a great travel bag that is both functional and stylish. A bag like this should go over very well as a gift this year.
Do you have any recommendations for Physical or Occupational Therapy gift ideas?

If you work in an office or environment in which you sit all day, you’ve probably experience aches and pain in your neck, shoulders, or lower back. Other places you might experience pain are your knees, wrists or hips. Sitting all day, every day takes a huge toll on our bodies – especially if we’re not sitting correctly.

Fortunately, there are things you can do combat and prevent those aches and pains! These physical therapy tips for the workplace will help you feel better at the end of every day.

Set Up the Right Workstation

One of the biggest causes of pain in the workplace is simply sitting at your desk wrong. By correcting your posture and following workplace ergonomics, you can promote a healthier you at work.

  • Feet flat and knees at a 90-degree angle (use a footrest, if needed)
  • Elbows at least a 90-degree angle
  • Monitor an arm-length away, with the top of the screen approximately at eye level
  • Chair supports your back and thighs
  • Head back to prevent neck and shoulder strain

Get up and Move Around

Every hour or less get and move around – maybe take a walk around the office or the block. These “micro-breaks” improve circulation and can help relieve compression that has built up as you sat.

Basic Stretches & Exercises

Doing some simple stretches and exercises throughout the day can also have a big impact on easing the pain you’re feeling at work.

1. Neck Stretches

  1. Relax your neck muscles and tuck your chin to your chest
  2. Roll your head toward the right side and hold for 10 seconds
  3. Return your head to the original position
  4. Roll your head to the left and hold for another 10 seconds
  5. Repeat 3 times on both sides

2. Upper Body Stretch

  1. Clasp your hands together and then raise them above your head, palms facing out
  2. Push your hands up, stretching your arms straight above your head
  3. Hold for 10-30 seconds, then return to original position

3. Hamstring Stretch

  1. Sit on the edge of a chair with one leg extended out in front of you
  2. Keeping your back straight, bend forward and reach for your toes
  3. Hold for 10-30 seconds and return to original position
  4. Bring that leg in and extend the other leg
  5. Repeat for the other side, holding for the same amount of time

If you do not see improvement after implementing these changes or are interested in more exercises or stretches to perform in the workplace, request an appointment with Performance Therapies!

World Physical Therapy Day

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Staying active is a critical part of maintaining our health no matter how young we are. Regular physical activity reduces our risk of cardiovascular disease, helps with managing weight, and lowers the chances of high blood pressure and type-2 diabetes. The benefits of having an active lifestyle aren’t limited to people in their 20s or 30s. In fact, seniors who regularly exercise found their cognitive functions, physical strength and mental health improving after adding regular workouts to their lives.
Getting older doesn’t have to mean becoming less active. It does mean, however, that the amount and kind of exercise we need changes as we age. To help with aging gracefully, here are some expert tips from our physical therapists to keep you moving freely.

Get physical in your 20s

Try being active for 30-minutes a day by adding weight-bearing and strength building exercises to your weekly routine. Weight-bearing workouts are movements that keep you upright like running, playing tennis or hiking. Strength building exercises are when you’re improving strength by lifting weights, performing yoga or doing pushups.

Try working towards a goal of about 75-minutes of recommended intense aerobic fitness weekly.

Meeting these fitness goals in your 20s will improve your heart’s well-being and allow you to maintain solid bone density to combat osteoporosis later.

Stay fit in your 30s

Our 30s tend to be the busiest periods of our lives. It’s also when we want to make sustainable health-related choices that support our well-being as we age. These decisions include getting adequate sleep, improving what we eat, and adjusting the positive exercise habits we started in our 20s.

We recommend prioritizing a balanced heart-friendly diet low on sodium and superfoods to give your body the right nutrients, fiber, and healthy fats it needs. Staying motivated and keeping fitness new and fresh will give your body enough time to recover and prevent injuries. If you’re short on time, burn calories by adding ten-minute workouts to your day. These micro workouts are perfect for people with busy schedules and provide similar health benefits to longer workouts.

Seek help in your 40s

Staying active in our 40s can increase life expectancy, limit the development of chronic diseases and helps us age well overall. However, it’s not uncommon to feel aches in pains as we enter this pivotal point in our lives. If you’re struggling to stay active at this age, it might be a good time to speak with a physical therapist. A physical therapist will work with you to achieve maximum levels of body function with minimum discomfort by organizing a workout plan designed for you.

Continue being strong in your 50s

You can continue to get stronger as you enter your 50s, but we recommend testing your bone density to make sure you’re not at risk of osteoporosis. You can continue to do exercises like walking, jogging, and weightlifting to improve your bone strength and reduce bone loss at the recommendation of your doctor. Your physician may also recommend adding Vitamin D and Calcium supplements to your diet in addition to weekly strength training to help you maintain your well-being.

Stay balanced in your 60s

Aches and pains may increase as you enter your golden years, but low impact exercises can help ease pain and maintain mobility. Exercise also helps build the necessary strength that can prevent falls and allow you to keep your independence. Along with staying active, it’s important to take a balance assessment with a physical therapist to make sure you aren’t at risk of falling. A therapist may also recommend group fitness programs that are linked to improving movement, balance and further reducing the chance of falls.

Preventive exercises and creating fitness routines are imperative to healthy aging. Have more questions about how to stay active in your 60s? Contact NWPC to speak with a professional health care provider or visit us at one of our Portland clinics to see a physical therapist.

Our latest infographic visually shares these important physical therapy tips for adults from ages 20 – 70. Check out our tips for 5 decades of adult life below. Do you practice any of these exercises at home?

How to do physical therapy?

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