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WHAT HAPPENED TO PHYSICAL THERAPY?



Over 25 years ago, I had the unfortunate experience of injuring my knee and subsequently having surgery at seventeen. The one positive that came from this experience was that it led me to pursue physical therapy as an occupation. Having seen the healthcare system's deterioration as both a provider and a customer over the years led to me starting my practice. I no longer wanted to wait for change; I wanted to be part of the change.

How have things changed in the last 25 years? The same physical therapist administered the care I received for my first knee surgery every single visit, for starters. No assistant, no technicians, and no students; just a licensed physical therapist who was an expert in his field. Did I ever have to wait while he juggled multiple patients at the same time? Nope - I had his undivided attention each session. Every rep of every exercise was monitored, and corrections were given as needed. In fact, I learned more in the 12 or so sessions I had with him that each subsequent surgical recovery in later years was much more manageable. And as far as insurance went, my co-payment was a whopping $10 per visit. Well worth it, even for a high school kid.

Fast forward five surgeries later to the year 2011. I am working as a physical therapist, looking to have an experienced physical therapist work on my knee. I knew what exercises to do, but I needed a therapist to provide the manual techniques necessary to get my knee back to working order. Did I have the same therapist each session? Not a chance. I found myself shuffled from one therapist to another, with no logical progression in terms of treatment. Was my therapist a licensed professional for every visit? Nope. I worked with students, PT aides, and other staff with hardly any training, let alone knowledge of my injury. Where was the one-on-one care I was looking for to bounce ideas off the therapist and ask about different treatment strategies? Well, I had to wait my turn in the rotation as the therapist was running around trying to keep up with their caseload. I didn't get much more than a "Hello" and "Are you scheduled for the rest of the week?" And remember that $10 co-payment? It went up to $40. Even as a grown adult, it hurt every time I paid - considering the level of service and care I just received.

Are there some physical therapy providers who do it the right way? Absolutely. But they are few and far between. Even if a physical therapist has great ethics, their employment situation makes it impossible to provide one on one care in the outpatient setting. Owners argue they can't make money by having them treat one patient at a time, especially in the era of declining reimbursement. The next time you go to a physical therapy appointment, as you are pedaling the stationary bike or arm bike or laying on a hot pack for 10 minutes of your allotted time, pay attention to what's happening. Do you have a different therapist than the last time? Does your therapist give you a few exercises and then leave you alone for 10 to 15 minutes before checking back with you? Is the hands-on work you get a couple of minutes barely before they apply electrical stimulation and ice? When you leave, do you feel your money was well spent?

As a provider with nearly 20 years of working in several outpatient clinics throughout the East coast, I have taken my knowledge of physical therapy and combined it with my health and fitness industry experience. At Physique, we are dedicated to bringing physical therapy back to what it used to be and what we feel it should be. We aim to give each client a superior experience by giving them the knowledge they need to succeed in their health and fitness-related goals. #physicaltherapy #fitness #healthyliving #workout #fitnessmotivation #goals #kneeinjury

Yours in health,

Keith Pacific

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