5 Questions to Ask A Physical Therapist At Your First Visit (2023)

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5 Questions to Ask A Physical Therapist At Your First Visit (1)

MOTION physical therapists are movement experts dedicated to helping clients improve function and reduce pain, allowing them to enjoy the best quality of life possible. Our highly trained health care professionals may serve as primary care providers or deliver care in partnership with other health services.

With a mission to “get you back to what moves you” as quickly as possible, we strive to promote healing and recovery so you can enjoy an active lifestyle.

Whether you are considering MOTION or another physical therapy clinic for your recovery needs, ask the following questions at your first appointment to ensure you are getting the quality treatment you deserve.

1. What is your background as a physical therapist?

  • What level of education did you complete? Are you licensed?
    Physical therapists must complete an accredited Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree program and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy Candidates. They must also complete ongoing continuing education requirements to maintain licensure.
  • Are you board certified in any specialties?
    In addition to their DPT, a physical therapist may complete additional education to become board certified in one or more specialty areas, including Cardiovascular and Pulmonary, Clinical Electrophysiology, Geriatrics, Neurology, Oncology, Orthopedics, Pediatrics, Sports, Women’s Health, and Wound Management.
  • Do you have any other advanced training in treating my condition?
  • How long have you practiced as a licensed physical therapist?
  • Have you treated many clients with my condition? If so, what outcomes did you typically achieve?
  • Can you provide patient testimonials, especially related to my condition?

2. Does physical therapy hurt?

Don’t be afraid to ask your prospective therapist about the amount of pain or discomfort you should expect during treatment. They should be open and candid about their expectations.

A physical therapy treatment plan often includes exercises to increase mobility and reduce pain. Some exercises, such as those to improve range of motion, may cause discomfort. Never hesitate to let your physical therapist know if you are experiencing pain during or after your session. Depending on the intensity, frequency, and how long the pain is lasting, your therapist may adjust your treatment program.

Other therapeutic techniques, such as electrical stimulation, heat and cold therapy, and ultrasound therapy, rarely cause discomfort. Many clients find these modalities soothe sore muscles and reduce pain.

3. What does a typical PT session look like?

Ask your potential provider about a typical therapy session. To help, we’ve put together a description of a typical session at MOTION. Please note that not all physical therapy clinics operate the same.

First visit

During your first visit, your physical therapist will gather as much information as possible in order to design the most effective treatment plan for your condition. You can help by bringing detailed notes about your symptoms and anything that worsens or relieves your pain, impairs your function, or causes other symptoms.

Your therapist may ask you to move around as they assess certain functions, so dress comfortably. Never hesitate to ask questions and to provide feedback.

When formulating your treatment plan, your physical therapist will consider the following information:

  • Your medical history, including any available X-rays or scans
  • Notes from your doctor
  • Medications you are currently taking, including over-the-counter meds
  • Your symptoms, including what makes them worse or better
  • Whether you are using any assistive devices
  • How this condition is affecting your life, and what you hope to achieve from physical therapy

During this visit, your therapist will also analyze your functional mobility, including strength, range of motion, endurance, and balance to determine a baseline measurement. This will help you and your physical therapist track the progress you make during your rehabilitation program.

What happens during my regular sessions? How long are they?

The length of each PT session varies from clinic to clinic. At MOTION, we want to ensure you have plenty of time with your physical therapist, so each appointment lasts 40 minutes, which is longer than a typical session at most PT providers.

Most clients see their physical therapist two to three times per week, for six to twelve visits. Some conditions require fewer visits, and some require more. Factors like overall physical fitness, age, diet, smoking, medications, and severity of the condition may affect the length of rehab.

Regular sessions usually include therapeutic exercises and stretches to increase strength, range of motion, balance, and overall fitness. Your therapist will also provide you with a home exercise program. By faithfully performing your home exercises, you may recover faster.

What modalities will my PT use?

Besides hands-on treatment, physical therapists commonly use one or more of the following modalities:

  • Hot Packs
  • Cold Packs
  • Ultrasound therapy (delivers sound waves to decrease inflammation and pain)
  • TENS Unit (electrical stimulation)
  • Iontophoresis (delivers medication while body part is in water)
  • Laser Therapy (light therapy to decrease inflammation and promote healing)

Don’t hesitate to ask about the type of modalities that a potential provider would use for your condition.

4. Will I see the same physical therapist at each visit?

At MOTION, we believe the relationship between client and therapist is extremely important. To achieve the most effective results possible, you and your physical therapist must work as partners. You must feel comfortable with and confident in the abilities of your PT. Unless there is an unforeseen conflict, we will schedule you with the same therapist each time.

Your physical therapist will teach you how to be an active participant in regaining your health and staying healthy. Your PT works to encourage and motivate you while understanding that you know your body better than anyone. At MOTION, we value your input and promise to listen to your feedback. By combining your knowledge and intuition with our specialized training, we will be successful.

5. Will physical therapy help me regain full function?

Studies have found physical therapy to be effective for pain reduction, stroke recovery, improving mobility, balance, and range of motion, recovery from sports injuries, decreasing fall risk, diabetes issues, and avoiding surgery.

In fact, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found physical therapy to be as effective as surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS).

Each client and each injury or condition is unique. As we mentioned above, overall physical fitness, age, diet, smoking habits, medications, and severity of the condition may affect both the length of therapy and the outcome.

Although people heal at different rates, if you are not seeing any improvement after several weeks of PT, you and your therapist should review your treatment plan. The therapist may need to change the plan or re-evaluate your goals. Your physical therapist may decide a referral to another specialist is most appropriate.

If you are making progress, it is important to continue your in-clinic visits and home exercise program as you work towards your recovery goals.

Why Choose MOTION?

We understand how difficult it is to accomplish even the smallest of daily activities when you are experiencing pain and impaired movement.

That’s why we pride ourselves on our personalized attention and commitment to each client, the expertise of our staff, and our state-of-the-art facilities. By working together, we are confident you will achieve optimum healing and return to the highest possible level of function.

Since 2015, MOTION has provided transformative physical and occupational therapy services to clients of all ages. We are also proud to offer a specialized Post-Acute COVID Recovery Program for those struggling to regain their health and vitality after suffering from COVID-19.

We are committed to helping you regain strength and full range of motion so you can get back to enjoying an active lifestyle.

At MOTION, we are proud of the feedback we receive from current or past clients, stating how physical therapy has improved their lives. That moves us to do what we do.

Contact us today to schedule an in-clinic or telehealth appointment.

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