Last week I discussed the importance of understanding physiology, anatomy, kinesiology, and pathology on a level that allows you to contribute to a medical conversation. Another thing that is important to understand is what other practitioners can provide to your patient. I am not going to give you all the information you need here, but I will give you an introduction to get you started with your research.
If you are going to refer your patients to another practitioner you need to know enough about what other industries offer so that you send your patient to the right person at the right time.
For each field you are interested in referring patients out to, know the scope of that field. Know what they do, and what they don’t do. Work to understand where each field is best. Do you send a patient to the physical therapist while they are still acute? Do you send your patients to them before or after they see you or in conjunction with your treatment plan?
Some common practitioners that I refer my clients to are:
Physical Therapists – The primary focus of physical therapists is helping patients restore movement, strength, function, and range of motion. They develop rehabilitation programs for their clients that usually involve stretching and movement.
Chiropractors – Chiropractors are experts when it comes to adjustments and manipulation of the skeletal structure. 95% of the time we see the most significant difference when our patients see us one day, and the chiropractor the next. One thing I have learned from experience is that if a patient sees the chiropractor and us in the same day, we often undo what the other did, or the patient is not stable enough, and we can even do more damage. Also, if we have a patient wait too long between seeing the chiropractor and us, their tissues might not still be soft enough, and the chiropractor cannot be as effective in their re-alignment.
Neurologists – Neurologists treats disorders that affect the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. It is common for a neurologist to be involved with the care of an auto accident victim.
Psychologists or Mental Health Therapists – We often see auto accident victims with PTSD. Until we help them overcome and their trauma, we will not be able to get their body to let go and accept healing. By referring them to a mental health therapist, we can help them heal much faster and make our treatments more effective.
Nutritionist –Many nutritional issues often manifest in soft tissue or joint pain and dysfunction. If the body is nutritionally out of balance or doesn’t have what it needs for the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, and fascia to function correctly than bodywork is not going to be as effective.
Understanding other fields is not taught. It is something that you have to do on your own. It requires a lot of research, making connections in other fields and a lot of work, but it is one of the critical components of what contributes to my success as an orthopedic massage therapist.
Please join me on my journey of continuous learning. We have a wonderful community of massage therapists who support each other and learn together here.