Picking a Good Physical Therapist? Check out Their Name

It is hard to decide who you should see when needing a physical therapist. Most people may take the route of convenience, closest to their home, available time, most publicized, etc., because all physical therapists are made equal, correct? No, not correct. Although all physical therapists do attend 4 years of college and then continue on to graduate school to receive their physical therapy degree, there is a lot more training and learning after school to distinguish physical therapists from each other.

 

How can you tell that your physical therapist has continued to learn and educate? Just look at their name. Some physical therapists have the standard PT initials/credentials after their name defining them as a licensed physical therapist, but it is becoming more common to see multiple initials after their name distinguishing them as specialists in a certain field of physical therapy with earned education and training.

 

The initials/credentials after a physical therapists’ name denote that they have spent extra time outside of school obtaining another degree/certification. Just like physicians, there are many types of physical therapy fields to work in. Although you receive training in each field while in school, in order to specialize and master a specific field of physical therapy one should take continuing education courses and possibly even complete a residency to earn more letters after their name.

 

There are many letters that can be earned. Here is a list of some common letters to look out for when choosing your physical therapist:

 

Doctorate of Physical Therapy, DPT– These initials stand for a physical therapist who has completed a clinical doctorate degree program which is 1 year longer than the standard Masters (MPT) degree. The doctorate degree program has included additional curriculum to equipped physical therapists to be prepared for diagnosing patients as the first point of contact.

 

Physical Therapist Assistant, PTA– These initials stand for a licensed physical therapist assistant who is permitted to provide physical therapy services under the direction of a physical therapist. They can carry out a physical therapists’ plan of care and provide treatment, but cannot diagnose or perform physical therapy evaluations.

 

Orthopedic Certified Specialist, OCS– These initials stand for a physical therapist who has advanced clinical skills and knowledge in the area of orthopedics within physical therapy. This is the therapist who can treat all your orthopedic needs.

 

Pediatric Certified Specialists, PCS – These initials stand for a physical therapist who has advanced clinical skills and knowledge in the area of pediatrics within physical therapy. This is the therapist should treat your precious children and babies for all their physical therapy needs.

 

Sports Certified Specialists, SCS– These initials stand for a physical therapist who has advanced clinical skills and knowledge in the area of sports within physical therapy. This is the therapist who has spent time on the field with sporting athletes and can treat the demands of high-level sports.

 

Women’s Health Certified Specialist, WCS– These initials stand for a physical therapist who has advanced clinical skills and knowledge in the area of women’s health within physical therapy. This is the therapist who you should seek out for all your prenatal, postnatal and pelvic floor needs. Although the letters include the word “women’s health” this specialized physical therapist can treat male or female for any issue related to the pelvic floor.

 

Neurologic Certified Specialist, NCS– These initials stand for a physical therapist who has advanced clinical skills and knowledge in the area of neurology within physical therapy. This is the therapist who can treat the complicated cases pertaining to neuromuscular diseases including Total Brain Injuries, Strokes, Parkinson’s disease, etc.

 

Geriatric Certified Specialists, GCS– These initials stand for a physical therapist who has advanced clinical skills and knowledge in the area of geriatrics within physical therapy. This is the therapist who should be sought out by your grandmother, your great grandfather or any person who requires special needs pertaining to their elderly age.

 

Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Certified Specialist, CCS– These initials stand for a physical therapist who has advanced clinical skills and knowledge in the area of cardiopulmonary within physical therapy. This is the therapist who can treat medical related issues pertaining to your heart and lungs to help with recovery back to full function

 

Clinical Electrophysiologic Certified Specialist, ECS– These initials stand for a physical therapist who has advanced clinical skills and knowledge in the area of electrophysiological medicine within physical therapy. This is the therapist who should be seen for injuries that require the use of high tech machines and testing, such transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machines and electromyogram and nerve conduction velocity testing (EMG/NCV).

Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist, COMT– These initials stand for a physical therapist who has advanced clinical skills and knowledge in the area of manual treatment techniques within physical therapy. They are the therapists that are more likely to dive into a back and neck problem with their hands on manual skills, advanced mobilization of soft tissues and bones.

 

Certified Hand Therapist, CHT– These initials stand for a physical therapist who has advanced clinical skills and knowledge in the area of hands and upper extremity injuries within physical therapy. They are the therapists who know every tiny bone, ligament and nerve within the hand and upper extremity.

 

Functional Movement Systems Specialists, FMS– These initials stand for a physical therapist who has learned and can administer the FMS test. The FMS is a screening tool used to identify limitations or asymmetries in seven fundamental movement patterns. These are the therapists who have a trained eye to recognize faulty movement patterns and provide exercise prescriptions to correct those movement patterns.

 

Functional Capacity Evaluator, FCE– These initials stand for a physical therapist who has learned and can administer a functional capacity evaluation which helps determine an injured employee’s physical capabilities for return to work. These are the therapists you should seek out when deciding how much and what type of work can be tolerated after an injury.

 

There are many more letters/certifications to learn about here that continue to distinguish physical therapist from physical therapist and help you find the right therapist for you. You can search and browse physical therapists within different physical therapy clinics via the BetterPT website and BetterPT mobile app. Most people have no idea how good their body is designed to feel and with the “right” physical therapist for you, you can get there! Book an appointment today to start feeling better.

 

 

 

 

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