Quality equipment is essential to any good physical therapy practice. Up-to-date, well-maintained equipment projects an air of professionalism, and it makes treatments more effective for your patients and easier on your body.
Fortunately for first-time practice owners, you don’t need to break the bank to get up and running. Quality is more important than quantity, and a few good pieces will suffice as you build up your clientele. Here are the items you should focus on when you’re opening up your first physical therapy private practice.
One of your only must-haves, a good treatment table — or three or four — should be the first thing you purchase. A quality table will be sturdy enough to hold heavy patients, while also featuring enough padding to provide pain relief and comfort. Ideally, you’ll have at least one adjustable table that will allow you to provide effective manual therapy without straining your back.
Mirrors are critical for helping patients understand how their bodies move through space. You don’t need wall-to-wall mirrors, but you’ll want one floor-to-ceiling mirror per patient you see at a time.
Resistance Training Equipment
Gym equipment will likely be your biggest and most important expense when you’re starting your practice. You don’t need a full-fledged gym, but you will want enough basic pieces to allow for a wide range of exercises. For most patient populations, a pulley system, set of free weights, and several benches will suffice. You’ll also want to invest in plenty of resistance bands, since they tend to stretch and lose their efficacy over time.
Cardio equipment can be great for promoting blood flow to injured areas while accommodating compromised joints. An exercise bike is the top choice for most PTs and patients, and it can be used for warm-ups, cool-downs, and even strengthening. If funds allow, a treadmill and elliptical machine also are excellent additions.
You’ll never want to run out of bandages, tape, and other consumables. Buy a significant stock of these items from the get-go, and if possible, arrange for recurring orders with your vendors.
Your new office doesn’t need bells and whistles, but you will have to have the bare essentials: computers, desks, chairs, fax machines, and printers. You’ll need a variety of software, as well: exercise programs for patient printouts; billing software to get paid; and an electronic medical record for tracking progress and communicating with physicians and insurers. Fortunately, some companies offer all of these programs in a single software package.
Finally, you’ll want to stock your new practice with a few evidence-based modalities. Light therapy, ultrasound, and E-stim are effective and affordable, as are devices for thermotherapy and hydrotherapy. These tools help patients heal faster and relieve pain, and they offer you the chance to passively treat one patient while actively treating another.
Upgrade as You Go
From top-of-the-line strength-training equipment to advanced manual therapy tools, you eventually will need to buy many items. As you get started, however, focus on buying basic equipment that will help you build your clientele. With a few quality pieces and a focus on patient-centered care, you’ll be amazed at how fast your practice grows.