What Happens During Your First Visit
- You will need to fill out paperwork when you first arrive. Please arrive 10 minutes early to do so.
- Bring your health insurance card, physical therapy prescription from your referring physician and any lab or diagnostic reports that pertain to your injury.
- Make a list of any questions that you might have so that you can make the best use of your time with your physical therapist.
What to Wear
Wear comfortable clothing in case the therapist wants you to engage in activities during the first session.
The Initial Evaluation
Part One: Communication
Before the examination your physical therapist will discuss the following:
- Any symptoms you are having and for how long.
- Pain intensity: what aggravates and eases the problem.
- Your medical history.
- Any prescription and/or over-the-counter medications you are currently taking.
- How your pain is impacting daily activities.
- Your goals with physical therapy.
Part Two: Examination
Your therapist will then perform an evaluation which may include the following:
- Palpation: your therapist will use his or her hands to examine the affected area and perform a detailed examination of the mobility of your joints, muscles, and other tissues.
- Muscle Testing: your therapist may check for strength and the quality of the muscle contraction. Pain and weakness may be noted. Often the muscle strength is graded. This is also part of a neurological screening.
- Range of Motion (ROM): the therapist will move the joint(s) to check for the quality of movement and any restrictions.
- Neurological Screening: the therapist may check to see how the nerves are communicating with the muscles. Reflexes may be assessed as well.
- Special Tests: the therapist may perform special tests to confirm/rule out the presence of additional problems.
- Posture Assessment: the therapist may assess the positions of joints relative to each other
Part Three: Treatment Plan
Finally, your therapist formulates an individualized plan. Education is an important aspect of your physical therapy treatment and your physical therapist will teach you exercises to do at home. You might learn new and different ways to perform your activities at work and home. These new techniques can help minimize pain, lessen strain, avoid re-injury, and speed your recovery.