If you have been referred to a physical therapist, you probably have quite a few questions. After all, physical therapy is unlike anything that many people have experienced. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to prepare for your appointment. Here is what to expect.
Before Your Appointment
Your physical therapist will need to make a detailed evaluation, including a full health history. Sit down and assess the symptoms you currently have, starting with the one that bothers you most. Try to determine whether it gets better or worse with certain positions or movements, if it is more bothersome at certain times of day, and whether it gets better with rest.
Make a list of all injuries, incidents, stressors, and other factors that you believe may be contributing to your symptoms. Also write down any diagnoses you have, and any specific instructions your doctor has given you.
Make a list of all your current medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, including supplements, vitamins, and herbal remedies. Also list all current medical conditions, even if they seem unrelated, as well as significant health events in your past such as surgeries. Document all medical conditions that your parents and siblings have (or had, if deceased).
Finally, make a list of the questions you have for your physical therapist. Physical therapy is collaborative, and education is a key component.
Your First Appointment
Wear comfortable clothing that you can freely move in. Also bring any glasses, hearing aids, canes, or other devices that you use regularly. If possible, bring in any diagnostic reports that are related to your condition, such as X-rays or MRIs. Consider bringing a family member or friend along to help you remember details. Also, bring the names and phone numbers of any health care professionals you would like us to advise of your progress.
First, your physical therapist will ask a lot of questions about your health and your current symptoms. The more information you can provide, the easier it will be for your physical therapist to assess whether physical therapy is appropriate for you and which treatments to use.
Next, you will receive a full examination. This may include an evaluation of your balance, coordination, strength, flexibility, and posture, along with blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration, if needed. In addition, your physical therapist will likely perform a manual exam of the affected area to check for mobility and possible issues.
Depending on which part of your body is affected, your physical therapist may also evaluate your walk (or gait) as well as such functional activities as standing from a seated or lying position, and such body mechanics as bending and lifting. Your therapist may also ask questions about your health habits, activities, recreational activities, and home and work environments.
In most cases, your physical therapist will work with you to develop goals and a treatment plan, and then begin working with you right away. However, if you are in intense pain or have severely limited mobility, your therapist will focus on those issues first, before moving on to exercises. Throughout your treatment, your physical therapist will keep a close eye on your responses to different techniques, and adjust as necessary to minimize pain.
You may be evaluated for assistive equipment such as crutches, a cane, or special shoes. If you are at risk for falls, your therapist might also recommend adaptive equipment to make your home safer.
As physical therapy progresses, you will do more and more exercises in the therapy room, and will receive more and more suggestions for exercises to do at home. Education is always a core component of physical therapy, and your therapist will work hard to ensure that you understand what you are being asked to do and why. If you have any questions, either at your first appointment or subsequent visits, never hesitate to ask.
Founded by physical therapy innovator Dr. Joseph Simon, the Manhattan Physical Therapy and Pain Center is a leader in pain relief and injury recovery conveniently located in Midtown Manhattan. We offer several dedicated programs for different conditions, along with the latest innovations in physical therapy for all. If you are ready for the latest treatments for pain or injury, call us today at (212) 213-3480 to learn how we can help.