If you read my blog from last week I know that you are prepared – as far as research is concerned – for your very first visit. Although, even with all of that knowledge is it important to understand what you’ll be doing, and if there is anything that you need to know going into your very first session.
I am sure that you won’t be surprised to hear that your physical therapist will start be asking you lots of questions about your health and the condition that made you decide to seek help from him/her. Remember – detailed information about you and your condition is exactly what he/she needs, as it will help which treatments are right for you.
In order to determine the best course of treatment your physical therapist will perform a detailed examination. He/she will evaluate your strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, posture, blood pressure, and heart and respiration rates. Just so you know it is very likely that he/she might use their hands during the examination, so please be sure to be vocal if you feel uncomfortable – but don’t worry, this will not cause you any pain.
Other things that might be evaluated:
• How you walk
• How you get up from a lying position
• How you get in and out of a chair
• How you use your body for bending and lifting, or other activities
Other important things that your physical therapist will need to know about are your work environment, your home life, and what you do for fun. These are all very important things because it is your therapists job to make sure that you are comfortable in all areas of life, and that you are able to do the things you love independently.
In many cases, the physical therapist will make a diagnosis and begin treatment almost immediately. After the diagnosis your therapist will help you determine what your goals are and will start developing a treatment plan.
It should not be a surprise that one of the main goals of treatment is to improve or maintain your ability to do your daily tasks and activities. In order to reach this goal, the physical therapist may need to focus on the parts of your body in which you have pain, swelling, feel weakness, or have limited motion. Your physical therapist will constantly assess your response to each treatment and will make adjustments as needed.
One of the most important aspects of your physical therapy treatment is education – so there is a good chance that your physical therapist will teach you special exercises that are to be done at home. You might also be taught new ways to perform day-to-day activities that will help you minimize pain, lessen strain, and speed up your recovery.
• It is important that you arrive at the scheduled time or a few minutes early. Arriving late can affect your time with the therapist, and also affect other patients.
• Make sure that you are speak up during the discussion about visit frequency and work with the physical therapist to achieve your goals.
• Be sure to show up for all of your appointments. Failure to show up for an appointment and not calling to cancel can result in a fee. If an emergency prevents you from attending try to provide adequate notice to your therapist so that he/she can make good use of that time.
• Review the facility’s cancellation policy prior to the start of treatment.
The one thing that I make sure to tell all my patients is that you will get out of therapy what you put into it. As long as you are making an effort – in and out of therapy – you will benefit from each treatment session.
Outside Your Therapy Sessions
When you are out living day-to-day be sure that you are taking the precautions your physical therapist outlined during your visit. This may include modifying an activity, reducing weight on 1 limb while walking, avoiding certain movements, or restricting use of a specific body part. Lack of compliance with treatment precautions may cause injury and result in delayed recovery.
If you are prescribed a special device for home use make sure that you – again – are following your therapists instructions. And, of course, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are not clear on how to use it because incorrect use can be harmful.
This might sound repetitive, but make sure that you follow any home program that is recommended. Your ongoing performance and commitment to the home program is essential to your recovery.
If and of the instructions that your PT gives you are unclear make sure that you ask for clarification. Also you need to make sure that you are only performing exercises at the repetition, frequency, and resistance that your therapist has instructed. Basically you just need to be aware that more is not better in this case, and doing so could cause injury!
After your physical therapy care is completed, continue to follow the after-care instructions provided by the physical therapist.
Well – that’s is that! I hope that this was helpful to you and that you can feel confident going into your first therapy session. If there is anything I missed, or if you have any questions, please don’t be shy – you can leave them in the comment section below, give us a call, or fill out the online contact form.