By DiAnne Adams, DO
When it comes to the healing of an injury or condition, having a doctor and physical therapist who work closely together can be extremely beneficial to the patient. At Tulsa Bone & Joint Sand Springs, I work hand-in-hand with our physical therapy team on a daily basis.
In many cases, orthopedic or sports medicine doctors have to refer outside their company to a physical therapy group. Sometimes they are referring to a PT they have never met or perhaps never even spoken on the phone with. However, at Tulsa Bone & Joint, we have a qualified group of PTs on our staff – and at Sand Springs, we are literally under the same roof.
3 benefits to using a sports medicine doctors and PT who work together:
- Improved communication.
I’ve been working closely with Dan Skierski, DPT, manager of physical therapy here at our Sand Springs clinic, for the last year and a half. During that time, there have been countless times when we’ve been able to consult about a patient face-to-face. Since PT visits are usually quite frequent, the PT can help if there has been an acute change between appointments, or they can identify other contributing factors to the patient’s original diagnosis that the patient may have forgotten to mention during the doctor visit.
This leaves out the middle man of a front desk person, nursing staff, etc. This direct communication can often lead to quicker outcomes on treating the patient.
Also, this direct communication increases accountability for the patient. If I ordered PT for a patient, and he only showed up once out of the six weeks that were directed, Dan lets me know. This helps me know how committed (or uncommitted) the patient may be to the healing process.
- Quicker outcomes.
For better or for worse, much of healthcare is driven by what insurance companies require. When it comes to treating injuries, insurance companies try to steer physicians to take the most conservative approach in treating patients.
As a nonsurgical sports medicine physician, I am committed to exploring various options that will help my patients, and one of the most beneficial options is often physical therapy. Insurance companies frequently mandate that before they will cover higher-level imaging (like an MRI), the patient needs to first try six weeks of physical therapy.
There have been times when this approach has actually worked to speed up the process toward needed imaging. Since the PT has a one-hour session with the patient two or three times a week, and I only see the patient for 10 or 15 minutes, the PT has more interaction with and observes the patient’s movements more than the physician. There have been times that I’ve been able to request approval for higher-level imaging just a week or two into therapy thanks to something the PT has noticed and mentioned to me.
This speeds up treatment and allows us to jump through some of that insurance red tape a little quicker.
- Convenience to the patient
It’s very convenient for a patient to be able to see both the doctor and PT in one afternoon. This means less time in the car, less time waiting for appointments, and overall – happier patients!
The next time you’re looking into sports medicine or orthopedic care, consider a group that employs its own PT team. It will no doubt benefit you as a patient in the long run!