Tips & Techniques to Get You Back to Full Strength

Personalized Physical Therapy: What Does That Look Like?

Abby Schenk 
November 7, 2019
Personalized Physical Therapy: What Does That Look Like?

I was recently talking with a client who stated, “I had no idea this is what PT looked like?  I didn’t realize your profession was so hands on.”  She told me about her last PT experience, in which the physical therapist never even did manual “hands-on” work.  Our profession requires the constant use of our hands; we use our hands to monitor, analyze, and treat patients. With that hands-on work, we can assist, educate, mobilize, and instruct movement patterns to combat injury.

I am not here to critique other clinicians or companies. There are plenty of amazingly skilled clinicians all around me; I would unreservedly refer my client to those clinicians if they had needs that rendered a specific clinical skill set out of my scope of practice.  Each clinician has a set of unique skills different from the next.  But, when I heard my client – who had previously attended physical therapy sessions with another clinician – report that she had no idea what we did as a profession, I became sad and frustrated.

I believe in our practice and feel we have so much to offer as experts in manual and movement-based therapies. Let’s talk a bit more about what Personalized Physical Therapy is, and is not.

Personalized Physical Therapy is not:

  • Physical therapist will spend 10 minutes with their patients and pass them on to an aide, meanwhile billing the entire session.
  • Physical therapist will take patients through the same exercises they are doing at home or could do at home without being at the clinic.
  • Physical therapy is a set of blanket exercises often not addressing specific goals or tasks of the patient.
  • Physical therapy is 10 minutes of hands-on treatment and 50 minutes of exercises with Therabands.
  • Physical therapist sends their clients home with 30+ or more minutes’ worth of home exercises that don’t have limited effectiveness.
  • Physical therapist only work with muscles, and not joints or nerves.
  • Physical therapy is only for people in pain.
  • Physical therapy is 3x a week for 8 weeks, and you need to wait 3 weeks to see a therapist.

These perceptions have one thing in common: they are centered around the work of the therapist (or, the agenda of the medical provider), not around the needs of the patient.  The truth is these misconceptions are a product of the healthcare industry. Providers and healthcare conglomerates have a direct impact on the structure of the session and further impact the clinician’s ability to adequately assess and treat affectively.  What is left is the patient’s treatment experience which is far from authentic or personal.

As a clinician, the frustrating thing is there are a dozen of PT clinics within a small geographical area.  For every big, mulit-site healthcare provider, there are 1 or 2 private practice clinics trying to redefine the physical therapy experience.  Your experience with physical therapy might be like going to McDonald: the menu is always the same, the experience is limited, the food is questionable, and the post-meal outcome is less than desirable. But, you will have no trouble locating a McDonalds when you are hungry!

I love that our profession is becoming a front runner for conservative care management, however I do not want the patient experience and outcomes to suffer because we have an agenda driven by profit. When provider profit drives treatment, we end up with treatment and care decisions that are not in the best interest of the patient.

So, what is Personalized Physical Therapy?

  • One hour with an expert in movement therapy.
  • Time spent discussing your short- and long-term goals.
  • Time spent educating you on specific movements patterns.
  • Suggestions on daily modifications or recommendations on how to adjust poor habits.
  • A plan of care that is centered around your schedule.
  • The physical therapist spends most of the time in the session assessing and treating through manual or hands-on techniques.
  • You receive materials with effective and time-sensitive exercises that you can do anywhere.
  • More one-on-one time at each session leads to fewer sessions.
  • Offering injury prevention, return-to-sport, maintenance, and technique sessions.
  • Exercises and drills specific to your specific goals.

Open communication with your physical therapist that allows you to be in control of your outcome and plan of care.

At Smith PT, we pride ourselves on our ability to redefine how you experience Physical Therapy.  Your therapy sessions will be customized to fit you and your needs.  We will have open and honest conversations about how you can reach your goals.  We will reach out to other resources when we feel we need additional support or a team of clinicians.  We will provide you with the treatments that have been proven effective.

Regardless of how often you come and visit us at Smith PT, we will ensure that your treatment plan works for you.



Abby Schenk
Meet the Author
Abby graduated with her doctorate in Physical Therapy from the St. Francis University in 2013. Since graduation she has been spending her time advancing her manual and professional skills through additional certifications. Her vision is to be able to offer elite services to her patients through spending quality one on one time in order to education, specify individualized therapy sessions, and make a greater long-term impact by creating adaptable changes. Her mission is to refine the physical therapy experience by creating a path of recovery unique to each and above the standard of care. Abby ran cross-country, track, and was on the high school swim team. She went on to run cross-country and track in college and was All- American, and captain. She loves working with the fitness athlete, the collegiate athlete, and the active adult population because she understands personally what it feels like to be both on the injury and recovery side. Abby understands life happens and the body gets tired of our daily poor movement habits, however her intention is to prevent injuries from interfering with your health and fitness goals. Her mission is to empower her patients to be their very best self and move freely without pain or restraints. The outcome is accelerated healing by providing the highest level of skilled services for each patient’s needs. Combining a patient’s dedication, higher level sport-specific conditioning, and movement re-training, the result will be the best you. Some of Abby’s advanced training includes: Rock tape and Certified Rock Blades Technique Specialist, Blood Flow Restriction Certified, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, Myofascial Decompression, Myofascial Release, Pose Certified Running Technique Specialist, amongst other advanced education.