Physical Therapy and Financial Planning: Part 1 The Evaluation

Ryan Hastie, PT, DPT and Bill Hastie, MBA, CIMA® |

In a few key areas, physical therapy and financial planning have very distinct similarities. In this, Part 1 of a two-article series, we will explore how the patient/client evaluation is very much alike and that will be the basis for the recommended treatment/financial plan.

The first, and one of the most important, aspects of treatment of a physical therapist (PT) is the first appointment or initial evaluation. This evaluation will allow the physical therapist to ascertain information pertinent to the current episode of care. Knowing all information associated with the reason for the visit allows the PT to accurately diagnose the condition and provide a plan of care. The information procured during the initial evaluation will be subjective/qualitative and objective/quantitative.

The subjective information is typically more difficult to determine as many people struggle to accurately describe their pain (location, behavior, etc) and aggravating or alleviating factors. The physical therapist will attempt to gain insight into what prompted the patient to seek care. They will want to know specific details of the injury/pain episode to allow them to make a correct diagnosis and design an individualized treatment plan. The PT will typically ask more open-ended questions to allow the patient an opportunity to verbalize their feelings.

Objective data is easier for the PT to obtain. This information is gathered though a series of tests and measures. The patient will be asked to perform certain movements with the affected body part/region. This will allow the PT to objectively assess range of motion and willingness to move the affected area. Additionally, the strength of the surrounding muscles will be assessed, reflexes taken, and special tests designed to allow the examiner to zero in on the cause of the symptoms. This objective portion of the evaluation will enable your PT to determine if the cause of your symptoms (e.g. joint vs soft tissue) and provide a subsequent physical therapy diagnosis.

One of the most important steps in the financial planning process, much like physical therapy, is the gathering of information from the client. Only with a complete understanding of the client’s current financial condition, their goals and objectives, can the financial advisor form the basis for the financial plan that is being developed.  This information will come in two forms – quantitative and qualitative – and come from both a fact-gathering questionnaire and personal interviews with the client.

Quantitative information is typically the easier of the two types of information to gather from the client.  This where the completed questionnaire is of great value by providing a format for the client to list their assets and liabilities, specific information about any mortgages, retirement plans, etc. Once the financial plan is developed and presented to the client, this information must be revisited and updated on a regular basis.

Qualitative information is typically much more difficult to obtain from the client because it is about how the client feels, what they believe, what they fear and what they hope to achieve through the financial planning process. Few people can accurately articulate exactly how they feel on a questionnaire, and this is where the personal interviews are particularly important.  The advisor needs to ask open-ended questions seeking a deeper understanding of the client and what the financial plan is intended to achieve.