A LITTLE PREPARATION CAN GO A LONG WAY
By Dr. Frank Scerbo, PT, DPT, MS, CSCS
If you’ve had surgery for a sports-related injury, such as an ACL tear or a torn rotator cuff, I’ve got good news and bad news: The bad news is, there are no shortcuts; your recovery will take a number of weeks. But the good news is, choosing the right physical therapist (PT) will help ensure that you progress safely and at the best pace for your individual needs, so you can achieve your goals and get back in the game.
For these common knee and shoulder injuries, it’s really important to find a practice where the PTs have extensive experience specifically with post-operative, sports injury rehab.
Here are the key elements to look for:
There’s no shortage of large, corporate rehabilitation centers out there. But while big outpatient chains may suffice for some kinds of general PT, they are unlikely to offer the kind of specialization required for successful rehab after these kinds of surgeries.
One clue can be found on a practice’s web site. Look up the staff bios and credentials. For ACL or rotator cuff surgery rehab, you want a facility that’s staffed with Doctors of Physical Therapy (DPT), who specialize in areas such as orthopedic, sports and post-surgical rehabilitation.
Since this happens to be our area of specialization, every PT here at Scerbo meets these criteria. And all of us are also sports and fitness enthusiasts ourselves, which adds an important layer of understanding. We know where you’re coming from!
The same can’t necessarily be said for general PT practices, so make sure to check.
It’s really important to find someone who has developed those specific skills over time, by working with many patients with injuries like yours. One way to tell is to look at where the bulk of their patients are coming from.
As an example, Scerbo PT is a member of the Hospital for Special Surgery’s Rehabilitation Network. Because we provide the rehab to the surgical patients from New York City’s top orthopedic hospital, we tend to see a great many more post-op patients than most PT facilities. Additionally, we see many patients from Columbia Presbyterian in NYC, Holy Name in Teaneck, and Hackensack and Englewood hospitals.
Location matters for experience, too. For instance, Scerbo PT is located near several high schools with highly competitive football teams, like St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey and Paramus Catholic. We frequently work with young athletes from these schools, as well as students from North Bergen, Fort Lee and the surrounding areas. All this adds up to a great deal of experience specifically in sports injury rehab.
Physical therapy is really so patient-specific; everybody’s goal is different. Are you an elite athlete or a casual weekend warrior? Do you ultimately want to get back on the ballfield, or just reach the top shelf without pain? These things matter so much in determining your course of treatment. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to work with a PT who will take the time and interest to understand your history, limitations and goals, and individualize a treatment plan specifically for you.
At Scerbo PT, we start with a comprehensive exam, where we measure your range of motion and collect data. During that same initial appointment there is a component of patient education, and a discussion of the expectations of the PT and the patient. We make sure that by the end of the visit, our patients have a comfort level, both with their physical therapist and their personalized treatment plan, including what will be required for their home program.
Continuity of care
Even the most thorough intake process in the world won’t be effective if that information doesn’t follow the patient from one appointment to the next. Unfortunately, in a large, impersonal practice, you may see a different PT with each visit, making it all too easy for things to slip through the cracks.
As a smaller, more personal practice, we offer exceptional continuity of care. You stay with same therapist throughout the course of your rehab. Not only does this allow the patient and therapist to develop a rapport, but it also ensures that your progress is accurately tracked over time.
This is important at every stage of the game. While there are general protocols to follow, no two patients will progress through their therapy in the same way. Only an experienced PT who knows the patient’s whole story will be able to strike the right balance between the many factors at play, including the surgeon’s instructions, the patient’s wishes and abilities, and practical matters such as insurance limits.
For instance, if a patient is safely progressing more quickly than expected, a PT who is in tune with that patient’s long-term goals might allow them to move ahead of schedule, choosing to conserve visits that could be more beneficial in the later phases of therapy.
So for the best possible outcome, make sure to find a PT who is an expert in your specific kind of injury, who will stick with you from start to finish, and who will take the time and interest to see the big picture.
We are always available if you have any questions or need assistance. Call us at 201-941-2240 or visit us at www.scerbopt.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Scerbo Physical Therapy and Sports Rehabilitation, 725 River Road, Suite 60 (Marketplace), Edgewater, New Jersey 07020.