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What to Expect From Your First Physical Therapy Appointment

What to Expect From Your First Physical Therapy Appointment

by Leython Williams, PT, DPT, CMTPT1 Comment

As Physical Therapists, we are musculoskeletal experts treating the muscles, tendons, bones, joints, ligaments and nerves of the body. We diagnose and treat people of all ages, from newborns to weekend warriors to elderly individuals. Many patients have injuries, disabilities, or other health conditions that require physical therapy intervention. But physical therapists also care for individuals who simply want to lead healthier lives to decrease their risk for future injury.

We examine each person and develop a treatment plan to improve their ability to move, reduce or manage pain, restore function, and prevent disability. With a thorough evaluation and examination, physical therapists are able to pinpoint functional impairments that might be resulting in your pain or dysfunction. In doing so, we are able to develop a plan of attack to get you back on track toward a healthier lifestyle.

Your Initial Evaluation and What It Means

Your first session with your physical therapist is called an initial evaluation. During this session, your physical therapist will spend one-on-one time with you to learn about your condition, your previous level of function, and how your current condition is affecting your everyday life. After collecting your subjective report, your therapist will take specific measurements of the impairments that may be contributing to your problem. By combining your subjective report with our objective measures, we will develop a personalized treatment plan. At this point, you can expect education from your physical therapist on your diagnosis and prognosis with physical therapy. Your treatment plan will consist of hands-on therapy and evidence-based interventions to address your functional deficits. However, you will also be instructed and given resources for a home exercise plan that will be part and parcel to obtaining optimal outcomes in your treatment plan. For more information on the importance of home exercise compliance, take a moment to read this blog.

What You’ll Need

Now that you know what to expect from us, here are a few things that we’ll expect from you at your first appointment:

  • Bring physician’s referral for Physical Therapy (only if you have one, but one is not required to see us)
  • Bring your insurance card and Driver’s license/ID
  • Fill out paperwork beforehand or arrive 15-20 min early
  • Dress comfortably for exercise

If you don’t have a physician’s referral for physical therapy, don’t worry! Many states have direct access laws*, which allows for an initial evaluation and treatment without a physician referral or prescription required.* This means there’s no need to wait! If you have a nagging pain or injury that has been bothering you, start with Athletico by coming in for a free assessment. We’d be honored to be the first step in your healthcare journey! Free assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our telehealth platform.**

Request a Free Assessment

Physical therapy is usually the thing you are told to do after medication, x-rays or surgery. The best way to fix your pain is to start where you normally finish – with physical therapy at Athletico. Schedule a free assessment in-clinic or virtually through a secure online video chat where our team can assess your pain and provide recommended treatment options.

Questions about insurance coverage? Call our friendly Billing Center representatives at 630-575-6250 to help.

*Direct access rules vary by state
**Per federal guidelines, beneficiaries of federally funded plans are not eligible for a free assessment.

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

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