What can I expect on my first visit?
During your first visit you can expect the following:
- Arrive at your appointment with your physical therapy prescription.
- A physical therapist will conduct your initial evaluation and discuss the following:
- Your current condition and cause of the injury.
- Your past medical history including medications, tests, and procedures related to your health and current problem.
- The intensity of your pain – for example, when and what aggravates the pain and what you currently do to ease the pain.
- How your condition/pain is impacting your daily activities. What are your functional limitations?
- What you hope to achieve from physical therapy i.e. setting your individual goals.
You will be evaluated by one of our licensed and highly trained physical therapists. The therapist will perform an objective evaluation which may include some of the following:
- Palpation – touching around the area of the pain/problem. This is done to check for tenderness, possible swelling, soft tissue integrity, tissue temperature, or deformity.
- Range of Motion (ROM) – the therapist may move certain joints to check for the quality of movement and to assess for any abnormalities of these joints as well as the ligaments, muscles, and tendons that surround them.
- Active Movement and Strength – the therapist may check for strength and the quality of the muscle contraction. Pain and weakness may be noted. Often the muscle strength is graded.
- Neurological Screening – the therapist may check to see how the nerves are communicating with the muscles, sensing touch, pain, vibration, or temperature. Reflexes may be assessed as well.
- Special Tests – the therapist may perform special tests to confirm/rule out the presence of additional problems.
- Posture Assessment – the positions of joints relative to ideal and each other may be assessed.
The physical therapist will review your symptoms and objective findings from the examination and discuss the findings with you. Together you will plan your treatment. The therapist will continually evaluate the effect of treatment on your condition and adjust the treatment plan if necessary. Your plan will also help you manage your condition at home and educate you on how to prevent recurrence of problems.
What do I need to bring with me?
Bring your physical therapy prescription and a copy of your completed paperwork, as well as your insurance card(s), if applicable. Most health insurance plans have physical therapy benefits. You might wish to check with your insurance carrier on your particular benefits/limitations. For Worker’s Compensation, bring your claim number and your case manager’s contact information. If you are covered by auto insurance or an attorney lien, make sure you bring this information.
How should I dress?
You should wear loose-fitting clothing so that your physical therapist can easily move your joints and entire body as that helps us perform a thorough examination. You should be able to expose the area that we will be evaluating and treating. For example, if you have a knee problem, it is best to wear shorts. For a shoulder problem, a sleeveless tank top is a good choice. For low back problems, wear-loose fitting shirt and shorts.
How long will each treatment last?
Plan for a minimum of half an hour and a maximum of one hour. This depends on whether your appointment is an assessment or treatment.
How many visits will I need?
This is highly variable and depends on several factors, including your type of injury, your personal medical history, and how well your condition responds to the treatment. You may need only one visit or you may require several visits and many months of care. Your physical therapist will discuss with you how many visits you may require. Your progress will be re-evaluated on an ongoing basis and will assist your physical therapist in adjusting your frequency of treatment as needed.