As I think about my career and my profession we are very much behind in the game. It’s very obvious to me that most people have no idea what a Physical Therapist even does. When you get sick or have a cold, you think of a Primary Care Physician. When you have a rash or skin irritation, you think of a Dermatologist. When you have a back problem most people would think of a Chiropractor. When you have a musculoskeletal injury, who is the first person you think of to get checked out by? This is a very interesting question and I wanted to try and dig deeper into it. I decided to ask the question on Facebook to see who people would go to if they had an injury. I can honestly say that the answers did not surprise me…they disappointed me.
I decided to post a question to friends on Facebook about who they thought of when they got injured. Where they would go and why? Now this isn’t a big sample size, but the trend was there and even if I would ask 100 people I feel that the answers would be close to the same. I got answers like: PCP, Chiropractor, Massage Therapist, Paramedic, Orthopedic Surgeon. I got a few Physical Therapists, but not as many as I would have liked. My question to myself was why? Why is physical therapy the last thing people think about? Why isn’t physical therapy at the top of the list when it comes to injuries? Why? The answer is simple…knowledge and understanding of the profession. People just don’t know! TRUTH!
We as a profession have done a poor job promoting ourselves as the go to injury experts. Marketing ourselves as physical therapists means nothing to people if they have no clue what it is we do! We can say all day that “We treat all injuries”. “Come to us” because we have the best care around. We have “X” amount of square feet of space and we have all this great equipment. Still never letting people know exactly what it is that we do! A lot of PT’s are out there doing this exact same thing. We as a profession need to come together and do a better job of getting people to understand us. I have people I know come up to me and ask me if I deal with patients with neck and LB pain? I get people asking me if I deal with hand and wrist fractures? YES! I deal with all of that and more, but people are not informed enough. If you ask anyone out there what a Chiropractor does I would say 99.9% of people would know. They do an excellent job marketing themselves to the public!
Physical Therapists are musculoskeletal experts. We are highly educated professionals that have gone through years of schooling to be able to treat patients with injuries. We treat any and all body parts. We focus on patient goals and function. We listen to you and help you get back to being a construction worker, grandparent, baseball player, mom, runner, lawn care worker, letter carrier etc… We educate you more than any other profession does on your current problem. We form relationships with all of our patients to the point it’s like a family. We look out for your best interest and focus on what you want to get back to doing. We help you get over your fears. We listen to your problems and sometimes become a psychologist. We are there for you throughout your journey. We are highly trained to be able to evaluate you. If there is something that doesn’t seem right we have the ability to refer out. Too many times I get a patient and they have been dealing with chronic pain for the past year and PT was the last resort. So I ask that as you read this blog post, the next time you get injured think Physical Therapy first!