Every patient deserves to be treated as an individual. There may be some overlap in the treatment between two patients but your experience with physical therapy and chiropractic should not feel like a medical assembly line. Here's an example of how we treat our patients at Mobility-Doc. You can use a guideline for your own care no matter where you live in the world. That's not to say that our way is the only way to help someone, but we get great results, and this is how we do it.
The New Patient Consultation
We spend at least 60 minutes with every new patient. If the case is more complicated it could be longer. Every first visit begins with a doctor seeking to understand three things:
The third question is often the most important one to answer. Its never as simple as just wanting to not have pain anymore. Usually the end goal is layered with beginning or resuming an activity, and reinforced with the proper habits to avoid arriving back to us as a patient. Getting rid of your pain is the easy part. Sustaining an active lifestyle for the rest of your life takes work.
Almost every visit begins with testing three things:
If you didn't read our blog about testing and retesting, then you really should. We teach that concept to all of our patients, and it's the guiding force for our treatments as well. If your doctor isn't physically examining you on some level then I'm not sure how they know if you are improving or not. New patients may go through some functional capacity testing or a movement screening. Something more in depth that we will test again later. The testing might even be specific to a sport or activity. Established patients will almost always go through the basic three tests at the start and end of each visit.
The treatment you receive should depend on three factors:
For our patients we almost always provide hands on physical care. One of the reasons why we've been so effective as a physical medicine practice is that most hospital affiliated rehab centers don't spend enough time physically treating their patients. Instead they push them to do therapeutic exercises from the start. Hoping that the pain or dysfunction will work itself out. The issue is that you can't build strength and stability in the presence of pain or dysfunction. The main reason why typical therapy settings push patients to do therapeutic exercises, often never physically touching the patient, is because they can see more patients and make more money with therapeutic exercises. Don't fall into that trap. Here's a blog we wrote explaining that idea in more detail.
Therapeutic exercise is a generic term for the strength, stability, and flexibility work that you do during your appointment. We will use another blog to go into greater detail about what exercises you should be doing. For the purposes of this blog all you need to know is that at Mobility-Doc we take pride in developing customized rehab protocols for every patient. We don't follow the same script for everyone. There will be some overlap, but we don't hand everyone the same sheet of paper and then send them to their respective corners to perform their exercises. Avoid practices where everyone is doing the same exact thing.
There are many wonderful physical medicine practices out there but it isn't always easy to find the right one. Hopefully you can use our outline above as a reference point during your search. Also, do your research about the doctor and the practice. Read the reviews from previous patients. At the end of the day, even if you become a patient at Mobility-Doc, the only thing that matters is if you are getting better or not. It takes the right intervention, not just any, to help a patient.
The Mobility-Doc Blog
Drs. Chloe Costigan and John Giacalone are both physical medicine specialists, former competitive athletes, and strength and conditioning coaches.