Whether you have questions about your first visit, upcoming treatment, or what to expect with physical therapy in general, find your answer here. If the answers to these questions don’t put your mind at ease, feel free to contact us before your first visit.
What happen happens at my first visit?
During your first visit you can expect the following:
- Arrive with your paperwork completed (download here)
- You will provide us with your prescription for physical therapy.
- We will copy your insurance card.
- You will be seen for the initial evaluation by the physical therapist.
- The therapist will discuss the following:
- Your medical history.
- Your current problems/complaints.
- Pain intensity, what aggravates and eases the problem.
- How this is impacting your daily activities or your functional limitations.
- Your goals with physical therapy.
- Medications, tests, and procedures related to your health.
The therapist will then perform the objective evaluation which may include some of the following:
- Palpation – touching around the area of the pain/problem.
- Range of Motion (ROM) – the therapist will move the joint(s) to check for the quality of movement and any restrictions.
- Muscle Testing – 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
- 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 therapist will then create a list of problems you are having, and how to treat those problems. A plan is developed with the patient’s input. This includes how many times you should see the therapist per week, how many weeks you will need therapy, home programs, patient education, short-term/long-term goals, and what is expected after discharge from therapy. This plan is created with input from you, your therapist, and your doctor.
What do I need to bring with me?
Make sure you bring your physical therapy referral (if it was provided to you by your doctor) and your payment information. If your insurance is covering the cost of physical therapy, bring your insurance card. If you are covered by Workers’ Compensation, bring your claim number and your case manager’s contact information and adjustor’s contact information, and name of the Workers’ Compensation insurance company. If you are covered by auto insurance or an attorney lien, bring claim number, insurance information.
How should I dress?
You should wear loose fitting clothing so you can expose the area that we will be evaluating and treating. For example, if you have a knee problem, it is best to bring or wear shorts. For a shoulder problem, a tank top is a good choice, and for low back problems, wear a loose fitting shirt and pants, again so we can perform a thorough examination.
How long will each treatment last?
Treatment sessions typically last 60 minutes per visit.
How many visits will I need?
This is highly variable. You may need one visit or you may need months of care. It depends on your diagnosis, the severity of your impairments, your past medical history, etc. You will be re-evaluated on a monthly basis and when you see your doctor, we will provide you with a progress report with our recommendations.
Who will see me?
You will be evaluated by one of our licensed and highly trained physical therapists and he/she will also treat you during subsequent visits. Unlike some clinics, where you see someone different each visit, we feel it is very important to develop a one-on-one relationship with you to maintain continuity of care. Since only one physical therapist knows your problems best, he/she is the one that will be working closely with you to speed your recovery.
Is physical therapy painful?
For many patients, one of the primary objectives is pain relief. This is frequently accomplished with hands-on techniques, modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and/or heat or cold therapy. Movement often provides pain relief as well. Your physical therapist will provide you with the appropriate exercises not only for pain relief but to recover range of motion, strength, and endurance.
In some cases, physical therapy techniques can be painful. For example, recovering knee range of motion after total knee replacement or shoulder range of motion after shoulder surgery may be painful. Your physical therapist will utilize a variety of techniques to help maximize your treatment goals. It is important that you communicate the intensity, frequency, and duration of pain to your therapist. Without this information, it is difficult for the therapist to adjust your treatment plan.
Can I go to any physical therapy clinic?
In most cases, you have the right to choose any physical therapy clinic. Our practice is a provider for many different insurance plans. The best thing to do is give us a call and we will attempt to answer all of your questions.
Can I go directly to a physical therapist?
Most states have some form of direct access. Some state physical therapy practice acts require a diagnosis before a patient can see a therapist. Other states allow patients to go directly to physical therapists. This is true for the state of Maine. In most cases, if you are not making significant improvement within 30 days, the therapist will refer you to/back to your physician. Seeing a physical therapist first is safe and could save you hundreds of dollars.