What to expect from your first physical therapy appointment

first-visit-t178637111When you see a doctor, your visits are often rushed. Not so with a visit to a physical therapist (PT).

A PT spends time finding out about your problem—and which treatments are most likely to help you. During a typical visit, your PT will ask about your health history, your activity level and the problem you’re currently experiencing. He or she will perform a physical examination, which often includes evaluating your strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, posture and heart and breathing rates.

He or she may also check how easily you’re able to move your joints and muscles. Other possible evaluations include: how you walk; how you get up from a lying position or get in and out of a chair; and how you lift objects.

Next, your PT will design a treatment plan to improve your ability to participate in everyday activities. He or she will focus on therapies that will reduce pain, swelling, weakness and limited motion. The plan usually includes exercises to do at home, as well as new approaches to your everyday activities.

To help you do the exercises, you may need special footwear, splints or crutches. Your PT will tell you where to purchase the equipment and how to use it correctly. He or she will assess your response to the treatments and adjust them as necessary. The goal is to minimize pain, avoid re-injury and speed your recovery.

Before your first visit, ask what type of clothing you should wear. You may need to wear something loose in case your PT wants you to do physical activities during the visit. Also, bring the following to your appointment:

• A list of questions about your condition

• Your symptoms and how long you’ve been having them

• A list of all of your prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements

• Any lab or diagnostic reports from other healthcare professionals who have treated you for your current condition

• A list of other physicians and healthcare providers you’d like your PT to contact regarding your evaluation and progress

For more information on how physical therapy can help you overcome a medical problem, contact us here.

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