On the day of your initial physical therapy visit, wear appropriate clothing so the body part being evaluated can be easily accessed. Arrive about 15-30 minutes early to complete paperwork. Once completed, you will be escorted to a private evaluation room. The therapist will introduce himself or herself and discuss your current problems and complaints, review your PT prescription, and begin a detailed evaluation. The evaluation will include objective measurements to establish a baseline and further understand the problem(s). Measurements may include manual muscle testing, flexibility testing, range of motion testing, balance testing, sensation testing, grip testing, pinch testing, edema (swelling) testing, and functional testing. In addition, the following assessments may be performed: palpation, observation, special orthopedic tests, standardized functional questionnaires, gait assessment, biomechanical assessment, repeated movements, and/or sustained movements. Of course, all these measures and tests are not completed as the therapist will choose the appropriate ones that are necessary to perform based on the diagnosis and complaints.
Once the evaluation is completed, a home exercise program is usually provided. The home exercise program is created on a handout with photographs, reviewed with you, performed by you, and then provided to you to take home. A copy is made to keep in your chart in the clinic. Usually, the clinic therapy program is not started until the second visit – but occasionally and dependent upon the symptoms and your need – the clinic therapy program may be started on the first visit. The evaluation and instruction in the home program usually takes about 60-70 minutes.
Once the home exercise program is provided, you will be escorted back to the front desk and scheduled to return. You will have the option of receiving a typed appointment schedule or a written appointment card. We usually will advise you to schedule the same week and the following week. However, we allow you the flexibility to schedule as few or as many visits as you would like. The evaluation is typed, the treatment program and plan are completed, and the typed evaluation report is faxed to the physician.
Upon returning the second visit and thereafter, we follow the “5 -Minute Rule” which means you will never wait more than 5 minutes in the waiting room past your scheduled appointment time. The therapy visits usually last about one hour. We determine duration and frequency of treatment (how long and how often you attend therapy) based upon the physician’s order or on the particular condition or diagnosis being treated. Typical therapy programs are 2-3 x per week for 4-6 weeks, but can be much shorter or longer based upon the diagnosis and response to therapy. The vast majority of our patients improve and achieve their goals. We will not continue treating you if you are not improving – if that occurs (which is rare) – we will re-evaluate you and provide you and your physician a detailed report and assist in getting you the appropriate evaluation or treatment options (i.e. orthopedic surgeon consult, MRI, surgery, or injections, etc.).
We will maintain outstanding communication with your physician and perform re-evaluations with typed reports for you and the doctor at initial visit, for follow-up visits, and at discharge. If any unusual signs or symptoms occur, we will call the doctor. We pride ourselves in working with your doctor – or referring provider – as a team and always staying on the same page with them.
Once all your goals have been met and you are pleased, we will fax the final discharge report to the physician and instruct you what to do to maintain your improved status – along with giving you a big hug and letting you know that we are always here for you.