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What Can I Expect on My First Physical Therapy Appointment?

Demonstration of manual Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is often prescribed or recommended for many patients, especially those who have had surgery or just had a baby, or who have injured themselves. Therapy is an excellent way for the body to supply the much-needed oxygen to the brain, which then stimulates beginning of the recovery process through the program that a physical therapist sets out for their patients. Physical therapy is an essential program to help patients recuperate faster and increase their mobility so that they can return to normal activities as soon as possible.

For some people, the thought of having to go through physical therapy can be daunting. Patients can experience much apprehension going into treatment because some people are not used to physical activity, or they may worry that the therapy will cause additional pain. So, what should a person expect on their first visit to the physical therapist?

First, the therapist will evaluate you as you are and in the current condition, you are in. One of the main ways the physical therapist gains this information is by asking you questions. Some of the questions that therapists ask patients are their past medical history, mental health questions, what prescriptions the patient is taking and the current pain level. The therapist will also talk to patients in detail about their condition and what they want to accomplish in the physical therapy program.

Secondly, patients will perform strength exercises so that the therapist can evaluate the current strength level. This will also help the physical therapist assess a patient’s range of motion. Some other physical characteristics that the physical therapist will analyze are the patient’s stance, posture, gait, how patients get up from a laying down position or rise from a seated position, and how patients move their bodies to reach for or pick up an object. All of these evaluations may seem needless; however, they provide a wealth of information to the physical therapist. The therapist is watching how patients move their bodies on a regular basis. When a therapist sees room for improvement, they will show their patients proper movements that will cause them less pain and less damage to the legs, neck, back, and joints.

Finally, the physical therapist will ask their patients questions about their work environments and home environment. For example, the therapist may ask how many flights of stairs a patient has in their home. This information will tell the therapist if their patient is sitting or standing while they work, or if the patient has a flight of stairs in their home. The physical therapist will often give tips on how to relieve pain while someone is at work. A good physical therapy program will extend past the therapy office and into the patient’s personal life.

The physical therapist and patient will work together to develop a treatment plan that the patient will benefit the most from. As therapy progresses, the patient’s program will most likely be modified to accommodate the patient and their pain levels. Time and patience are essential in the physical therapy treatment program, especially during the first appointment. For further information on physical therapy treatment, visit WebMD.