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How to design the ideal physical therapy space in your practice

This article was written and published for ChiroEconomics. See it here

Design considerations for adding physical therapy

AS WE DESIGN OFFICES ACROSS THE COUNTRY, we see more clients who combine chiropractic with physical therapy (PT) to give their patients a comprehensive care plan for healing pain and degeneration.

Since all our designs adhere to the principle that form follows function, we always focus first on the functional space before the aesthetic design. The first of our two articles written for Chiropractic Economics, “Design or Augment Your Ideal PT Space,” published April 18, 2021, discussed in detail two specific space criteria for chiropractors adding PT to their office:

1) Adequate space, and;
2) Line of sight.

In the second, “Chiropractic and Physical Therapy Office Design,” published April 17, 2022, we expanded on space layouts by showing examples of four offices in various sizes that incorporated both chiropractic and PT. In this article, we are going to focus on the form — the interior design of the physical therapy space.

You know an aesthetically pleasing environment is appealing to all, but did you know it will yield a return on your investment? When the space matches your professionalism, brand and quality of service, it will increase your attraction and retention of patients by as much as 20%. It does not have to be expensive; however, it must be intentional.

The overall focus of any interior design is: “How do I create an atmosphere that will psychologically enhance the desired activities of the space?”

First and foremost, a clean and uncluttered environment represents professionalism and will bring a sense of calm and trust to your patients. Everything needs a place and an order, so storage is essential.

Next, we look at the overall atmosphere desired. In an active PT space, the overall desire is to create an inspiring environment that supports and encourages movement. How do you elevate the energy level? You’ll want to incorporate higher light levels (ideally daylight), taller ceilings when possible, and finishes in brighter colors with more contrast. Adding an inspiring graphic will create a memorable “wow” for your clients. When it comes to passive therapy, the opposite is true. You’ll want to create quietness with lower light levels, lower ceilings, and muted colors with softer finishes.

Since we know that seeing examples helps in expanding your ideas, this article will continue with examples to demonstrate environments that are aesthetically appealing and follow these guidelines.


Example #1

1A: In this PT area, we laid out the most active equipment next to the exterior windows with open ceilings to create the most energy. The added mural brought motivation and encouragement.

1B: The more passive therapy was positioned farthest away from the light, under acoustical ceiling and on top of carpet to soften the sound. The lighting was soft down lights with dimming to vary the light level.

Example #2

2A: This example includes an open, active PT area positioned close to the daylight with high contrast between the black rubber floor and white walls. Plus, there’s adequate storage.

2B: The passive therapy area has low wall separation, indirect light, carpeting and a soft, low-contrast color scheme with splashes of soft watercolor art.

Example #3

3A: This example in the active therapy space takes advantage of the natural light with added indirect light and inspirational graphics. The storage of all the unique equipment for scoliosis correction keeps everything easy to find.

3B: This office also has passive therapies contained inside curtained cubbies in a space separated from the open area to control the sound.

Example #4

This example of active therapy included daylight and bursts of color to increase energy and activity.

We hope these examples have given you ideas and inspirations as you consider the design of your physical therapy areas; with an intentional design goal you will elevate your success.

CAROLYN BOLDT, IIDA, LEED AP, has more than 35 years’ experience as a commercial interior designer. Over this time, she gained a complete understanding of the industry, which includes retail, hospitality, health care, corporate, sustainability and relocation design. She is a registered designer and is a principal for CrossFields, with the mission to create practical and impactful environments that elevate chiropractic success. She can be contacted through chiropracticofficedesign.com.

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