My treatment philosophy is guided by 2 core principles: 1. I optimize my patients' time frame of recovery as much as possible. 2. I empower my patients to be as independent in their rehab as much as ...
It is incredibly gratifying to help people improve their lives by assisting them to reduce or abolish their pain or return to their activities. There is no moral ambiguity in the job of a physical therapist. Every day, I have the privilege to help improve lives and the world, even if by just a little bit.
Thanks to the treatment structure of seeing patients for 45-minute to 1hr sessions, and often on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, I can keep a close eye on my patients’ progress.
Every week, as I observe my patients undergo their rehabilitation and recovery, I witness a level of willpower that I rarely see in everyday life. Whether it be an elderly man pushing through weakness and fatigue to get stronger so that he can better help his wife at home, or a young athlete participating in an injury recovery and prevention plan to be able to get back on the court to help his teammates, I get to see the extremes of human mental strength every day at work.
My patients’ progress is even more spectacular when they started off in an acute and disabled stage. I have seen a woman who broke her shoulder half a decade ago and never thought she would get back to playing the violin grin widely when she was finally able to get back on the stage as well as young athletes who believed their career was over, cry in relief when they realized that they would be able to return.
The most diverse and interesting people step foot into my office. Just the other day, a patient told me about how she lived on a boat for 20 years and traveled the world. I’ve also had the chance to interact with Ph.D. students writing their thesis on obscure topics that I would have likely never have heard of. Something that brings me much joy is treating other healthcare professionals, such as nurses, cardiologists, and orthopedic surgeons, and exchanging stories about their experiences and knowledge.
Before and after my 1hr treatment sessions with my patients, I always make it a point to connect with them on a deeper level, as not only does it widens my horizons, but it also helps me best orient their rehab. For example, a surgery resident who spends 10 hours every day standing would have different needs than a programmer sitting in front of a computer his whole shift.
I started weightlifting over 10 years ago, and have gotten more serious about it since January 2020 (a New Year’s resolution that actually worked!). I’ve experimented with classic bodybuilding, calisthenics, and even yoga. More recently, I’ve been very passionate about powerlifting since mid-2021.
Physical therapy is directly in line with my passion for weightlifting and allows me to share my passion with my patients. Proper exercise prescription is directly aided by knowledge and experience with weightlifting, which I’ve acquired over the years.
A patient recovering from a shoulder or elbow injury will have to strengthen and become pain-free in functional movements such as pushing and pulling: two movements directly trained with common weightlifting exercises like the bench press and the cable rows.
When I demonstrate these exercises to my patients, it gives me an opportunity to get moving and stay active, rather than sitting behind my desk charting all day.
Private practice physical therapy is a truly boredom-proof job. I am not exaggerating when I say that every day at the clinic is a different day. Even patients who consult for a similar condition can have a different presentation, past medical history, work demands, personality, or goals and will require a different rehab plan. There is never a one-size-fits-all treatment for any condition, no matter how common it might be.
Many consultation reasons such as ankle sprains, low back pain, and shoulder injuries are seen on an everyday basis, but every few weeks, a patient can come into my clinic with a condition that I have rarely (or maybe even never) seen before, which then requires me to adapt and study. Every time that I think to myself “I’ve seen it all”, something new comes along. It is very exciting.
I learn through treating new patients with new conditions, but also through continuing education courses. As a physical therapist and a member of the Ordre Professionnel de la Physiothérapie du Québec (OPPQ), I am required to take a certain number of hours of specialized courses per year. These courses are mainly given by other physical therapists or healthcare professionals and typically cover a narrow number of conditions with the goal of sharpening a therapist’s knowledge in those conditions.
In the past year, I have taken about 120 hours of continuing education courses given by institutes such as the McKenzie Institute, the Advanced Physical Therapy Education Insitute, and the Integrated Musculoskeletal Care institute. I have recently also read the 494-page manual by La Clinique du Coureur on running injuries.
All of these courses serve to advance my knowledge of musculoskeletal conditions and how to assess and treat them and are a major part of why I love my profession.
There are pros and cons to working in my own private practice as opposed to within a larger physical therapy clinic. A pro of operating my own practice is the level of freedom I have: I can see my patients on my own terms, choose the length of treatment I find best suits the patient, and, most importantly, I can leave 15-minute holes in between my appointments to ensure the patient gets the best care possible.
For more complicated cases, having an extra 15 minutes can make a world of difference in terms of better understanding the patient’s presentation and creating a better rehab plan. For patients who do not need that 15 minutes, I use it to clean up the room and finish up my session charting.
Operating my own practice also means that I can ensure that my patients are always seen 1-on-1 in my office, ensuring total privacy. Another advantage is that I can ensure that I never see more than 6 or 7 patients per day, which allow me to maximize the quality of their care without compromising my own mental health.
Although I sometimes miss being part of a larger team with a receptionist and an occupational therapist, the pros of operating my own practice allow me to enjoy my job much more.
Though I’m currently fulfilled seeing patients in my private clinic, my mind remains open to the many opportunities being a physical therapist offers me. Though most people know the physical therapist for working in private clinics and seeing musculoskeletal conditions (ankle sprains, post-shoulder surgeries, fractures, back pain, etc.), there are physios in many other fields working with different clienteles.
There are private practice physios who specialize in treating certain conditions, such as a colleague of mine who specializes in treating barbell sports-related injuries or another one who only treats older patients for geriatric conditions.
There is also homecare, which I have dabbled in for the past few months. Homecare physical therapy largely consists of seeing patients in their homes for orthopedic conditions or to work on fitness goals such as increasing mobility and independence.
Opposite the private sector, there are also physical therapists working in the public sector within hospitals and rehabilitation sectors. Their clientele can vary widely depending on their floor, from acute post-surgery patients to patients with neurological conditions to patients in the ICU.
Lastly, physios can also be teachers: either as university lecturers, teaching private classes that serve as continuing education hours for other physios, or by taking on interns in their clinics.
If any of the information or stories in this article speaks to you, feel free to check out my profile to read more of my articles or to book a 1-hour private room evaluation with me.
If you’d like to discuss any of the points raised in this article in more detail, I would love to speak to you. You can contact me by email at email@example.com or by phone at 438-801-0417. I currently offer free no-strings-attached 15-minute phone call sessions to discuss how I can best assist you.
Here are some suggestions of articles I have written recently, organized by topics.
Knee pain: case study 1
Shoulder pain: case study 1
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