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  • Writer's picturePiotr Solowiej

What happens if I go somewhere else?

There is no shortage of physical therapy options in the Chicagoland area. However, they do not all operate the same, and more importantly, treat you the same.

You likely have a dentist, mechanic, or grocery store you trust. Out of the options available to you, why choose to go to these specific locations? Maybe the business is run by someone you know and trust, or you have a great customer experience there. We argue you should shop around for physical therapy care with the same mindset. If you choose to go somewhere other than Team Sapiens PT, chances are you are going into a major chain or health system. If this is the case, keep an eye out for the following 3 things that may signal you are receiving subpar physical therapy:

1) Treated like another number

Take a look around the office. Are people doing the same exercises/receiving the same treatment? This could be a red flag therapists here are going through the motions. Even with similar diagnoses, each individual's goals and needs are unique and should receive a tailored approach. Otherwise, it's just a cookie cutter approach. Another important consideration to be mindful of: is the provider you see the same person, or are you being bounced around between providers each appointment? Continuity of care is important. Understanding the behavior of your symptoms in relation to movements is vital to developing a treatment strategy. If you are always starting at the beginning of your story with a new person each appointment, it's difficult to make progress.

What's different about Team Sapiens you may ask: good question. Every one of our therapists performs an extensive, detailed examination to ensure nothing is missed. Findings in the examination, along with your goals and needs, combine to develop a tailored treatment approach. We do not consider anything to be trivial. If it's important to you, it's important to us.

2) Passed off to unskilled supervision

How much time are you getting with a licensed physical therapist or physical therapist assistant? For a 1 hour appointment, a good guess would be 15-20 minutes of "hands on" or so. Followed by loose monitoring of exercises (by an aide or technician) for the remainder of the appointment. Here's a good test: ask the person you are working with if they are licensed provider. You may be surprised to hear that the person monitoring your exercises only received on the job training (compare this to 6-7 years of combined undergraduate and graduate programming for a Doctor of Physical Therapy). Ultimately there is nothing wrong with working with an aide, but chances are you are being billed as if the licensed PT or PTA was with you the entire appointment. Another important test: ask to see what you are being billed for and if this billing reflects that you were/were not with a PT or PTA for the whole appointment.

Let's go back to manual therapy for a moment. While manual techniques are certainly important and valuable, they are often the appetizer to the entree of therapy: movement and education. The most benefit often comes from developing new skills, working through challenges (physical or mental), and gaining a better understanding of your body and symptoms. These benefits occur when you are an active participant in the treatment. Manual techniques are often just doing things to you, aka passive treatment. So while other practices skimp out on direct physical therapist time during movement and exercise, at Team Sapiens our physical therapists work directly with you (one on one) for the entire appointment because all the components are important! We would even argue that movement and education can result in greater improvements than manual therapy alone.

3) Poor planning and resource management

Healing times are fairly consistent for acute injuries and surgical procedures. Outside of those scenarios, there is a lot of variety in the expectations for improving a specific set of symptoms. Another possible red flag is if you are scheduled for physical therapy sessions 2-3x/week for 6-8/weeks, ESPECIALLY if you have not yet been examined. If your therapist has not met you, then how does the front office coordinator know how often you should be seen? Do they consider your financial constraints, work, school, or caregiving obligations into this schedule? Does anyone explain how much therapy will cost you? Do you get a say in how frequently you will be seen? Probably not. Some additional considerations: Given your specific problem, is it even reasonable to expect significant changes in that time frame? The reality is, some things can take months. Can you expect to get better with LESS frequent visits? Many times, yes.

At Team Sapiens you get matched up with one therapist. They are the one who will take all your calls, and work with you to manage your schedule and financial decisions (based on insurance benefits or cash pay). One person that has the entire picture results in excellent communication and less mix-ups and surprises about your care.


Lastly, by coming to Team Sapiens you are helping support a small, local business. We are family/friend owned. We work here, we live here. The money coming to our business gets circulated in our (your) community!

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