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Are All Physical Therapists (PTs) The Same?

Updated: Feb 2

In a word, no.


That question arose because of a conversation I recently had with a friend who’d had a stroke in three areas of her brain. She told me she was advised by her primary care physician that she could simply go to a general physical therapy clinic for treatment;” so she did. She felt “her doctor knew best about strokes.”


He did not. 


Her side effects were moderate, thank goodness. She was very lucky in that regard.


However, no matter how moderate the side effects, it’s prudent to get checked out by neuro-trained therapists. You may not need any therapy, but it’s worth an evaluation; and it’s covered by insurance, as long as you have a doctor’s script; and you’ve found a neuro out-patient clinic.


Do you see the conundrum? This doctor probably wouldn’t know of any clinics, and his patient didn’t even know to ask since she’d never had a stroke. 

The issue that alarmed me the most was the fact that she was advised by her primary care physician that “she could simply go to a general physical therapy clinic for treatment;” so she did. She felt “her doctor knew best about strokes.”


He did not. 


Neurological Rehab


We all know that in order to fully recover, we must receive our rehab from highly-trained neurological therapists ; yet a first-time stroke survivor doesn’t know, and why would they know -unless they’d had a previous stroke? 

If they can’t get an informed recommendation from their doctor, how would they know? 


My doctors in the hospital gave Jane the scoop, thank goodness.

Obviously her M.D. didn’t; and these are the professionals who are the primary advisors to their patients.


How could the richest country in the world have such a broken system? 


Did he recommend an OT for you as well, since your stroke affected 3 areas of your brain?  I asked. 

No,she answered. 


As you recall, OT involves all areas above the waist, brain included; yet PT involves all areas below the waist.

And, what about Speech Therapy? Again, “No.”


Did you know…

Speech therapy shares the PT funds and the number of sessions only because of a grammatical error in the written insurance policy.  

Although this error is well-known to decision makers, it has never been corrected.


Hmmm…


Due to this grammatical error, if you need therapy on your affected hand, shoulder, and/or arm, and you need speech therapy, the patient must share the limited funds and the limited number of sessions insurance companies will allow.

My curiosity kicked in, so I asked a friend, who’s a retired doctor, about her medical school training on strokes…


And she told me…

“In medical school, we didn’t receive any training for post-stroke rehab care, but we did receive a little training in trauma care immediately after a stroke.”  What a shame.


In Summary…

Please be careful about the advice you receive from healthcare professionals.  Check and double-check their advice by visiting reputable, well-informed, stroke-related websites like: 


And you might find the answer you need on this site! 🙂



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