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7 Signs of a Bad Physical Therapist (You Deserve Better)

Signs of a Bad Physical Therapist

Signs of a Bad Physical Therapist

Finding a physical therapist who is knowledgeable, skilled, and passionate about supporting you in achieving your goals is essential. However, a physical therapist's work may not always be up to par. You can tell if your needs aren't being met by the following seven signs of a bad physical therapist. We'll discuss some characteristics a good physical therapist should have as well.

1. Poor Stress Management

Bad physical therapists usually have stress management issues. This may indicate that your physical therapist is not prepared to handle the emotional demands of their work if they become overly tense while treating you. A further indication that they are not up to the task is if their trembling hands make it difficult for them to read measurements precisely.

Physical therapists are expected to exhibit excellent emotional intelligence, composure, and self-control. Your physical therapist is not likely to be effective if they act frustrated or angry about your progress (or lack thereof) or if they seem generally uninterested in helping you.

A bad physical therapist might exhibit poor stress management and disinterest.

A bad physical therapist might exhibit poor stress management and disinterest.

2. Poor Work Ethics

If you hear from other therapists that your physical therapist spends too much time socializing or engaging in activities unrelated to their work, such as talking on the phone, it may indicate that they are not dedicated to offering high-quality care. Additionally, if they are taking extended vacations and spending an excessive amount of time away from their patients, they might not be devoted to them.

If you notice that your physical therapist frequently takes sick days or shows up late for work, they might also have poor work ethics. The clinic should give you complete attention if you are the only patient there, but this is not the case. Additionally, failing to keep track of your records may be a sign that they are not concerned with accurately documenting your progress.

3. Inappropriate Personal Behavior

Your physical therapist is not taking their job seriously if you observe them engaging in unprofessional or inappropriate behavior. Some examples might include:

  • a lack of respect for personal boundaries
  • use of inappropriate language such as cursing or jokes.
  • inappropriate personal relationships with other workers or clients

You and your physical therapist need to gain a lot of trust in one another. The quality of the care you are getting could be seriously compromised if this trust is not established. Be sure to take action and address any perceived professional misconduct by your physical therapist right away. Report this behavior to their manager or supervisor if it persists and you are unable to address it directly.

4. Poor Commitment to Learning

If your physical therapist is unwilling to devote the necessary time to research and study, they might not be keeping up with the most recent procedures and techniques. This might indicate burnout, physical or mental exhaustion, or any other factor that might cause the therapist to take their job lightly.

If they are unwilling to learn more about their profession, you might also be able to tell they lack confidence in their work. They may feel comfortable with their abilities because they have been employed by the same clinic for a long time. It might be prudent to think about looking for a replacement physical therapist to take care of your needs if you notice this.

A lack of interest in learning new things or advancing their career could be a sign of a poor physical therapist.

A lack of interest in learning new things or advancing their career could be a sign of a poor physical therapist.

5. Failure to Meet Doctor’s Orders

If your physical therapist appears uneasy discussing and carrying out your doctor's orders, it may be a sign that they are ill-equipped to handle the complexity of your case.

You must bring up your concerns and have an open discussion with your therapist about them. This is if you have any inquiries about the exercises, techniques, or justification for the course of treatment your therapist has chosen to take with you.

6. Lack of Treatment Variety

Having a variety of options can help various patient types get the most out of their therapy because different patients may respond differently to the same treatment. As a result, if your physical therapist consistently uses the same exercises during your sessions, it may indicate that they are not pushing you or themselves to achieve your goals.

A skilled physical therapist will use a variety of interventions to aid in their patients' recovery, including exercises, manual therapy, soft tissue massage, and traction. Physical therapy can benefit more from incorporating multiple treatments than it can from using just one.

7. Lack of Rapport

If you don't feel like your physical therapist is paying attention to you or treating you with respect, their lack of interest in your recovery may be obvious.

The warning signs include not returning your calls or emails, skipping appointments, failing to return your questions, asking you to perform tasks that are beyond your capacity, not paying attention to your concerns, and ignoring your suggestions.

It is critical to find out about your physical therapist's genuine interest in seeing you get better. It's time for your physical therapist to start helping you.

So, What Makes a Good Physical Therapist?

Excellent interpersonal, listening, and communication skills are essential for a physical therapist. They should be able to effectively manage their time, as well as be compassionate and detail-oriented.

They should also have the physical stamina required for their job, as well as multitasking and treatment planning skills. It is crucial to be able to demonstrate a variety of soft skills, such as being frank, patient, cooperative, focused, resilient, compassionate, knowledgeable, and honest.

To relate to their patients and comprehend the demands of their daily activities, a good physical therapist should also have a broad knowledge base in addition to these skills. They should make an effort to continue learning throughout their lives and to maintain their cultural competency in order to stay current with the most recent advancements in the industry.

Accountability, altruism, compassion/caring, excellence, integrity, professional responsibility, and social responsibility are core values that physical therapists must uphold.

— Code of Ethics for the Physical Therapist Principles

Multiple activity in a physical therapy department

Multiple activity in a physical therapy department

You Deserve Better

Knowing the signs of a subpar physical therapist is essential if you want to make sure you are getting the best care possible. If you observe any of these red flags, it's critical to raise your concerns and seek out a different physical therapist who can provide you with the high-quality care you need. Now that you are aware of the traits of a good practitioner, you should be able to receive the treatment you deserve and need.

Sources and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2023 Louise Fiolek