I've been on both sides of the rehabilitation spectrum over the years - patient and provider. The therapy I've experienced and provided has ranged from ridiculous to excellent. You assume the person providing your care is not only a well-qualified practitioner, but holds a valid license in the state they are working. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. There are more places than I can count that allow students, rehab technicians, or other unlicensed personnel to administer care and collect from insurances.

Are these individuals qualified to handle whatever problem you are presenting with? The answer depends on the extent of your condition. I recall going to a chiropractic physician's office years ago after an auto injury and having someone work on me and, to this day, I have no idea what exactly he was. He wasn't a chiropractor, as I saw him only for a few minutes at the beginning of my appointment. When I asked the front office what his title was they just responded by saying he was a 'therapist'. After trying to get some clarification on what type of therapist they were unable to give me a response other than saying he was really good at what he does. That was the last time I set foot in that place.

My concern was that I was dealing with a partially torn rotator cuff along with a torn labrum. As a physical therapist, I knew this injury warranted the attention of someone on a similar level than my own education. Perhaps you have been there, lying on the table with your injured limb in the hands of someone you don't have 100% confidence in. Whether it is their mannerisms or inability to answer simple questions you ask, something just doesn't feel right. When in doubt, ask for credentials of the person who is working on you.

Aside from working with someone you can trust and feel comfortable with, a licensed professional is your best bet. Although this may not guarantee you the greatest healthcare professional, it will at least mean the person in charge of your care had to meet a minimum level of education and pass a national examination that requires continuing education in order to be active. A student enrolled in a University program offering physical therapy may have basic knowledge but may not be able to identify all of the nuances that may be associated with your particular condition. Make sure a licensed professional is directly overseeing a student who is working with you.

Here's a brief list of people you may encounter during your course of physical therapy, in order of highest level of education to the least.

Physical Therapist- Hold either a masters or doctorate degree

Athletic Trainer- Hold a bachelors or masters degree

Exercise Physiologist- Hold a bachelors degree

Physical Therapy Assistant- Hold an associates degree

These are the titles of healthcare providers you can feel confident in administering your care. Any other individual that does not possess one of the degrees mentioned above may be excellent at what they do, but may or may not be qualified to help you recover from your injury. Remember you only have one chance for an optimal recovery. By putting your care in the hands of an unlicensed medical professional, you may not get the results you expect.

Yours in health,

Keith Pacific