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What Kind of Qualities Should a Good Physical Therapist Have?

Man Holding a ball at a physical therapy session.

Many physicians refer their patients to physical therapy treatment. This treatment program is usually for patients who have injured themselves or are recovering from surgery. Physical therapists endure a grueling physical therapy program and participate in many hours of hands-on exercises. Physical therapists are highly trained medical professionals; some may even have a specialty, such as neurology.

But, how do you know which therapist will make you feel comfortable? What are the personality traits and qualities that a good physical therapist should possess?

One of the first things you may notice about the physical therapist who is working with you is if the therapist is a sincere and compassionate individual. Patients will easily sense this about the therapist by the time the first appointment session is finished. The therapist should understand your injury, as well as the patient’s level for tolerating pain. Patients can tell if the physical therapist genuinely cares about them as an individual because the therapist will listen to their patients, both by what their patients say and through their body language. As a rule, therapists who are compassionate usually have a warm bedside manner.

A good therapist will be understanding and sensitive to your condition; however, they should not allow their patient to maintain an attitude of self-pity. A therapist who is insightful will not allow patients to become discouraged or depressed as this outlook only hinders the patients progress and make the pain worse. A good physical therapist will gently and steadily encourage their patients, especially when the patient is pushing themselves to perform the exercises in spite of the discomfort and pain. This is not to say that physical therapists are to push their patients to the point of debilitating pain, that of course is unacceptable. On the contrary, a good physical therapist knows how to read a patient’s level of pain. The therapist may encourage patients to do what they can even if there is minimal pain or discomfort, without causing further injury. In some cases, a therapist may recommend an exercise machine or other piece of equipment for their patient to use. Using a new device will help to keep the patient interested in therapy while improving the patient’s recovery process.

Another character trait that a good physical therapist should have is being determined and confident. Therapists who are secure in their style and know that each patient responds to a routine differently. They will always have a backup exercise up their sleeve in case the patient has trouble performing it. A good physical therapist knows that a routine or set of exercises are as unique as their patients. In many instances, most people are in physical therapy treatment for a few months. This can be discouraging to some patients, especially if they do not see how much they are progressing. It is up to the physical therapist to be there for their patients as a support system and a source of encouragement and strength.

Physical therapists have many hats that they wear in the healthcare field. Not only do they care for their patient’s physical needs, but they also provide psychiatric support to keep patients motivated to continue the exercise routines. It is important to look for the above qualities when patients begin a physical therapy program. Most of all, the physical therapist should be knowledgeable in their field with layers of insight and compassion woven in between. For more in-depth information about these and other character traits of a physical therapist, please visit Guidedoc.com