Finding the best physiotherapist can seem like an impossible task. Arguably, it is impossible to find THE absolute best physiotherapist because that label does not exist. Each person’s individual needs differ, and so do the criteria for the best physiotherapist for each person. One clinician who fits perfectly with you may not fit well with another client. So now the question becomes: How do you find the best physiotherapist for YOU? Here are some things to consider when searching for a physiotherapist that is right for you.
1) Does your physiotherapist have the right training to meet YOUR needs?
Physiotherapists all have to undergo extensive schooling and hands-on training in order to meet the basic requirements to graduate. However, there are also numerous post-graduate or professional courses that physiotherapists can take to receive additional training. For example, physiotherapists can take courses in manual therapy (hands-on therapy), taping, or for management of specific populations of patients (i.e. pediatrics, geriatrics, neurological, sports, vestibular conditions, etc). Additionally, physiotherapists who complete certain formal education and training can also perform specialized skills including: Pelvic physiotherapy, acupuncture or dry needling, and spinal manipulation. Looking at the training and background a physiotherapist has can help narrow down the right one for you, based on the skills or area of expertise that are most applicable to you.
2) Does your physiotherapist have clinical experience relevant to you?
In addition to the education requirements, physiotherapists may have different hands on/clinical experiences through previous work experience or clinical placements during school. Finding a physiotherapist who has experience that is relevant to your goals can be beneficial. For example: if you are an athlete, it may help to find a physiotherapist who has had similar experience working with athletes, as it will likely be easier for them to understand your problems and goals.
3) Do your personalities or personal interests go well together?
This may seem like a trivial thing, however having compatible personality traits or interests can take your patient-therapist relationship from good to GREAT! Having some sort of common ground can allow a more effortless connection with your physiotherapist. But, besides having similar interests, the most important traits your physiotherapist should have are: empathy, compassion and rapport. Believe it or not, a patient-therapist relationship actually has a major influence on recovery outcomes. Research has shown that the collaboration established between the patient and therapist (also known as a therapeutic alliance) is a strong predictor on patient recovery (Hall et al., 2010). A strong therapeutic alliance that is built on trust and empathy can have a positive impact on your recovery.
4) Do they prioritize evidence based practice?
Evidence base practice is defined as practice that integrates the best evidence, clinician expertise, and patient values. This is an essential competency that every physiotherapist should have. Your physiotherapist should always practise using up to date, evidence-informed approaches, but can be difficult for clients/laypeople to know what “evidence-informed care” actually is. Generally, if your physiotherapist stays up to date on the latest research or regularly participates in continuing education, then they likely prioritize incorporating evidence informed approaches!
Now that you have a basic outline for finding the best physiotherapist for you, search the clinic website for clinician profiles and see who would be the best match for you! Make sure to also check if the clinic itself is the right fit as well. The “perfect” physiotherapist who works in an incompatible clinic may not end up working for you. Read our post “How do I find the best physiotherapy clinic?” to learn more!