Your physician has just given you a prescription for physical therapy…now what? In the state of Michigan, in order to see a physical therapist for rehabilitation or treatment, it is necessary for a physician to write a prescription. The next step is to call and get an appointment for an initial evaluation. Your physician’s office may call for you or have you call on your own.
During your first visit, which will usually last about an hour, you should expect to be asked some questions about the history of your injury or condition. Some questions your physical therapist may ask include:
- When did the symptoms start?
- Have you had these symptoms before?
- What was the previous treatment?
- Did that work?
- What are your symptoms?
- Do you have pain, numbness, weakness, stiffness?
- Where are the symptoms located?
- Are the symptoms constant or intermittent?
- How do these symptoms affect your daily activities-sleeping, dressing, working, etc?
- How long can you sit, stand, walk?
- How much can you lift?
The next part of the initial visit is a physical examination which may include: general observation of posture, palpation of tenderness, measurements of range of motion, test for flexibility, strength, reflexes, and special test for joints.
Once your therapist has all the important information necessary to get a better picture of what structures are involved, he/she will have a baseline from which to measure future progress. You will probably be shown some exercises to start doing at home and / or receive treatment which may include: heat, cold, ultrasound, traction, electrical stimulation, mobilization or soft tissue massage.
At the end of your first visit, your therapist will discuss the treatment plan and how many visitis to schedule. It is not unusual to schedule for 3 times a week for one month or until your next physician appointment. Remember the GOALS for physical therapy are:
- relieve the immediate problem
- reduce the risk of re-injury
Following through with your scheduled visits and home program will help you get Back in Action!