Clinic Spotlight — Lakewood

grandma pushing granddaughter sitting on a skateboard

Therapeutic Associates

Bringing patient-centered physical therapy to the Tacoma region.

When it comes to their first physical therapy appointment, patients may have a lot of questions, especially if they’ve never had PT before. In addition to providing answers and explanations to their patients, the physical therapists at Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy – Lakewood ask a lot of questions.

Patient goals drive treatment, so taking time to listen and understand what each individual has been dealing with and what they want to see change through their course of care is a key component of the first visit at Therapeutic Associates’ clinics. Our physical therapists are passionate about building relationships with their patients, collaborating on what their treatment plan looks like and empowering them to reach their goals.

“Drawing patients out and allowing them to tell their whole story about why they’re here, about their condition and where it all started, and encouraging them to expand their thoughts and express their goals – that’s why we start with open-ended questions and really good, active listening,” explained physical therapist Carsten Neumiller. 

“Then, as their PT, I work to mirror what I heard and share what I think might be going on as we dive into some physical assessments.”

Carsten Neumiller

By testing a patient’s strength and mobility, physical therapists are able to explore all the possible causes for their injury, condition or pain and make a clinical diagnosis. This assessment is a holistic look at body mechanics, reaching beyond the specific pain point to determine if other body regions may be contributing to the pain and dysfunction. From there, utilizing shared decision making, the patient and practitioner can create a customized treatment plan based on where the patient is and where they want to be.

“I use that first visit as a reference,” Carsten said. “It’s helpful to show patients where they were when they first came in, that baseline that we set, so as we progress through their care we can look back and see how far we’ve come.”

Shared decision making, he added, is also shaped by that first visit. While as a physical therapist Carsten brings his education, experience and expertise into planning treatment, he’s also committed to compassion and collaboration and recognizes that what he sees for the patient may not fit their lifestyle or vision.

What’s important to the patient is important to their physical therapy care team and they’ll work to incorporate patients’ unique situations and specific goals into their treatment. This includes learning whether they’ve been in PT before and what worked well for them or didn’t work for them if they have. And, if they haven’t, then it is an opportunity to focus on patient education and share insight and discuss safe treatment options.

“Safety trumps all, but it’s also important that patients know they’re being heard, and if there’s something they value, we can use some of our time to explore it together,” Carsten shared.

physical therapist uses a spine model to explain a patient's care

Though patient input is always highly valued, Therapeutic Associates’ expert staff strives to remain at the forefront of healthcare education and movement science research and utilizes the latest in evidence-based interventions. This commitment ensures patients experience safe and effective recovery and get back to the things they love quickly.

three generations on the beach with a soccer ball

Whether working with the very young or the very old, the patient experience is always top priority, Carsten said. Not only do patients need to find value in the time they dedicate to physical therapy, but they also need to have fun. And once they reach the end of their course of care, the clinic team that’s been with them during their journey wants them to have a deeper understanding of their body and its capabilities as well as a confidence that they will know what to do for their condition in the future, should they experience a flare up.

The physical therapists at Therapeutic Associates’ clinics take pride in empowering patients to take care of themselves but also emphasize that they are their patients’ healthcare partners and PTs for life. It’s important, Carsten shared, that patients recognize the care team as a resource and know that they can come back anytime they’re dealing with pain or struggling with exercise or any physical activity.

And for those who aren’t sure whether or not they should choose physical therapy, Carsten says it’s always worth getting checked out.

“Physical therapists have a really unique set of skills and an understanding of the human body and all the different systems that are at play, so if you have any musculoskeletal issue, we can help,” he said. “From a PT perspective, it’s always a lot easier to address an issue early and prevent something more from happening.”

With Therapeutic Associates clinics across the Tacoma region in University Place, Central Tacoma and Lakewood, Carston hopes to be the first stop for people throughout the local communities if they’re dealing with pain or dysfunction when it comes to movement.

And if your condition is beyond the scope of practice of physical therapy, your PT will refer you back to your primary care doctor or to another specialist.

So, whether you’ve been dealing with nagging back pain for years, have been in a motor vehicle accident, got hurt at work, are preparing for or just had surgery or you’re an athlete or weekend warrior who suffered an injury or just wants to prevent injuries as you ramp up your season, our highly skilled physical therapy team can work with you to address your situation and set you on the road to recovery.

Start your physical therapy journey today.

As physical therapists, we know the importance of movement for overall health and well-being. From injury recovery to achieving optimal performance, our passion is to help every patient reach their goals and live an active, pain-free life. Get started with PT today!

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