What is neurologic physical therapy? (And how to find the best one)
Not all physical therapists are the same. I don’t just mean in personality, either. I am talking about their specialty skills. Just like you would not go to a cardiologist for an ankle sprain, you would not go to an orthopedic physical therapist for treatment after a stroke or after just being diagnosed with Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis.
Perhaps this is not widespread knowledge yet, but there are physical therapists that specialize in treating people with neurologic deficits. Neurologic physical therapists help clients recover from anything from peripheral nerve injuries to severe damage to the brain or spinal cord. Examples of common diagnoses that they see include:
spinal cord injury
brain and/or spinal cord tumors
Neurologic physical therapists specialize in this area through loads of practice and extra learning, through fellowship or residency training or through sitting for their board specialization exam. In our experience neurologic physical therapists are quite a passionate bunch! They LOVE neurology and go above and beyond to creatively solve problems with you. They know the community and resources to help maximize your results and keep you healthy and fit for life. Don’t you want someone like that on your team?
So how do you find the right neurologic PT for you?
1) First—look for a board certified specialist or someone with experience with neurologic disorders.
A board-certified neurologic physical therapist will have the initials “NCS” after his or her name, which stands for Neurologic Certified Specialist. An NCS physical therapist has worked in a setting with people who have neurologic deficits for a minimum of 2 years or has gone through a credentialed neurologic residency program. These therapists have received concentrated training in neurology and have passed a (really hard!) credentialing exam given by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS).
Because neurologic specialist physical therapists are entrenched in the field, they are more current on the research and treatment strategies will help you best. Why does that matter? When you work on things that actually get you better, you get better sooner, which saves you time and money! NCS therapists will also arm you with the tools necessary to be successful for a lifetime of wellness.
If you are not sure about the right questions to ask to see if a therapist is right for you, grab our free guide.
2) Find one in your area:
Use the ABPTS website – abpts.org – and click on the “find a specialist” link to find an NCS in your area. http://www.abpts.org/FindaSpecialist/
You can also use the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) website – apta.org. Find a specialty physical therapist in your area by clicking on “Find a PT” at the top of the page.
Or, if you are in the greater Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange County area, we keep an up to date list of neurologic therapists in the area. Give us a call (424-225-1845) or email us and we can make a recommendation for you.
3) Ask the right questions
Maybe you are in an area where an NCS is not available (there are not very many—and we might be hoarding a few of them at [re+active]). There are many therapists out there that have a lot of experience in neurology without getting board certification. In that case, you want to ask about their experience with neurologic disorders and look to see what extra training, fellowship or residency training, research and specialties they have. We have put together a free guide of 9 questions to ask your physical therapist before you go. We want to make sure that you find the best neurologic physical therapist for you.
If you would like this free guide—subscribe to receive it, we will email it right away to you.