Beginning physical therapy can be very overwhelming and stressful, especially considering you’re already in pain and having difficulties with your daily activities. Here is a helpful primer on what to expect on your first therapy session—the Initial Evaluation.
- Paper Work:
Most clinics will ask you to show up a few minutes early to fill out paper work prior to meeting the physical therapist. While this can be tedious, it provides valuable information on your past-medical history, medications, and current symptoms which will guide the therapist through the interview and help the therapist ask the most appropriate questions concerning your health. Printing off the paper-work at home via the clinics website is also a possibility.
- Comfortable Clothes:
We always encourage our patients to wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes to the initial evaluation. This allows the physical therapist the ability to freely and accurately examine the injured area. It is hard to accurately assess hip motion in jeans, or shoulder motion in a suit. That being said, the most important thing is your comfort, so wear something you feel comfortable in—the situation can be stressful enough.
- Subjective Interview:
The “subjective interview” is your opportunity to tell your story . The therapist will begin the evaluation with some general questions about why you are coming into therapy and what your goals and expectations are. By establishing how you got injured and what has helped you thus far, we can use the best available research to help you reach your goals.
- Objective Examination:
The most medically intensive part of the evaluation will consist of a variety of tests performed by the therapist based upon your subjective interview. It will likely include some strength tests, an assessment of your range-of-motion, and some special tests to help rule-in or rule-out diagnoses. The goal is to gather accurate baseline measures to help us (1) plan the first series of exercises/activities that will help address your current status and (2) establish a metric to track your progress going forward so we know we are making progress towards your goals.
- Plan of Care:
Based upon all the above information gathered, the Physical Therapist will provided a professional opinion and prognosis of your diagnosis. If you are a good candidate for therapy, we will recommend how often per week and how many weeks we think you’d require to reach your goals. We may initiate some beginning exercises to establish a home exercise program or perform some gentle manual therapy techniques to improve your current symptoms. We always want you leaving our clinic feeling better than when you walked in.
Following your plan of care, we will schedule you for your follow-up appointments. We are always excited to get started and see you reach your goals and get you back to living the life you want!
We look forward to helping you advance your health!
Cole Racich, PT, DPT, OCS