As Ontarians, we have an abundance of health care options, which sometimes is a burden. These are some simple guidelines that might help you make your decisions for your body and your health.
Recently, when speaking with patients, I heard a few disheartening statements, and unfortunately these are not isolated incidents! The first statement was from a lady I met at fitness class, who was starting to get back to her regular activities:
"I don't really like the treatment that I'm receiving from my therapist, but it's the clinic that my doctor told me to go to, so I have to keep going"
The second statement was from a player on a team that I work with, who I was hoping I would be able to help with some exercise intensive treatment to help improve her performance in sport:
"My practitioner says that as long as I'm receiving treatment from him, I can only receive treatment from therapists at his clinic"
With both of these individuals, I had a frank discussion about choice. Both of these people had the freedom to choose where they get treatment, weather they go where their doctor recommended or not, weather they go to multiple clinics or not. A practitioner can recommend things to patients as long as it is directly for the benefit of the patient, and even then it is only ethical to recommend a certain level or type of qualification not a specific clinic or practitioner. These referrals can certainly not be made based on financial gain or business growth of the practitioner!
That being said, we are no closer to making a valid choice, in fact it might make it even more difficult since the entire range of practitioners including physiotherapy, athletic therapy, massage therapy, chiropractic care, osteopathy, occupational therapy... the list goes on! Here are some tips that I've gathered over the years to help choose my practitioners.
1) If someone is pushing you towards a certain choice, then think critically about their motives. If they have a financial interest in you attending that clinic, then they may not have your interests at heart!
2) You should be given opportunity to ask questions either from the person giving you a referral, or from the practitioner themselves about why this course of action is the best for your health.
3) Once you are in the clinical or treatment environment, you should feel comfortable and at ease. If you don't 'mesh' with a practitioner, that's OK. You should always feel free to seek different treatment if your therapist doesn't make you feel comfortable.
4) Your therapist should spend time talking to you face to face, discussing your treatment, adjusting to meet your needs and your goals, and shouldn't seem rushed. This is your time! If you are being treated in tandem with several other patients, and that doesn't feel right, then feel free to discuss it with your therapist.
5) You should start to feel better after a few treatments. This doesn't mean you'll be magically cured, but if you've been to a few appointments and don't notice any change, then something needs to be adjusted. This goes hand in hand with not making a commitment to continue treatment for a certain amount of time, or commit to a long term 'maintenance program'. There is no way to know how your body will respond to treatment!
If you are unsure if your practitioner is correct for you, or you're thinking of starting treatment and think that Athletic Therapy might be the right choice, then give us a call at Guelph Performance Therapy and we'd be happy to help!