Whether your physician refers you to a physical therapist or you decide to consult one on your own, your first appointment involves several aspects that are key to your upcoming treatment. The goal of this first visit is to gather necessary information about your medical history and perform a thorough evaluation of your current symptoms, limitations, and goals. This helps your physical therapist create an appropriate treatment plan to alleviate your pain and restore your health for long-term results. This initial appointment is also a convenient opportunity to ask any questions you may have about physical therapy.
Preparing for Your First Visit
Before your appointment, you should write down any symptoms you have been dealing with, including how often and their duration. If you have any medical images about your current health issue, make sure to bring them to your appointment, along with your insurance card and your ID. If your primary care provider gave you a referral, take it with you too.
Your physical therapist’s office likely asks you to fill out some paperwork. Bringing the completed forms can save you time at the front desk when you arrive. If you are planning to take care of the paperwork at the practice, you should arrive 20 minutes early so you do not have to rush.
Other documents you should bring to your appointment include:
- A list of current medication, prescription or over the counter
- Any medical or surgical records
- A list of your current physical limitations
- A list of your other doctors you want your physical therapist to contact about your treatment
Putting all relevant information on paper helps makes it easier to answer questions during your initial physical therapy appointment.
When you scheduled your appointment, you ideally asked what you should wear for the visit. If you forgot to do so, opt for comfortable workout clothes. Physical therapy can involve stretches and moderate physical activity.
You can wear:
- A tank top
- A t-shirt
Being comfortable and able to move as freely as your physical condition allows you to are the most important factors.
Going Through Your Initial Assessment
Your first physical therapy session focuses on your initial evaluation, which includes an in-depth discussion about your medical history, current symptoms, physical limitations, and recovery goals. They will also address any injury or chronic condition that caused your symptoms.
The physical therapist can then perform tests and measurements to establish a diagnosis. Assessing the type and range of your impairments is a key element of this process.
Common measurements during your physical evaluation include:
- Range of motion
- Muscle function
Your physical therapist provides you with clear instructions on how to perform any exercise they need you to do to collect their medical information.
Discussing Your Treatment Plan
After your physical therapist establishes a detailed diagnosis, they can discuss your treatment plan with you. This usually includes in-office therapy and at-home exercises to maintain and improve your results between sessions. Completing your treatment cycle and keeping up with your PT “homework” can make a significant difference in your recovery. They can demonstrate simple exercises and stretches during this initial appointment so you can start doing them on your own.
You can use this part of the appointment to ask any questions you may have about your medical condition or your treatment plan.
Your rehabilitation program can:
- Use therapeutic modalities such as heat, ice, or electric stimulation
- Educate you about activity modification
- Teach you how to use assistive devices such as a cane or crutches
You can expect your first physical therapy appointment to last from 45 to 90 minutes, but the duration may vary depending on your specific situation. You may need two in-office appointments per week for several weeks or months until you reach your goals. Your physical therapist can stay in contact with your other doctor(s) and they will track your progress to adjust treatment as needed.
If you need a trusted physical therapist in Middlesex County, contact ProFysio Physical Therapy today at (732) 812-5200 to schedule an appointment!