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Is this the first time you have been referred to a physical therapist? Not sure what the next steps are or what are some of the proper questions one should ask to be properly informed? No need to worry, read below to help gain some clarity and have some questions prepared for your first physical therapy visit.

One of the first and most important questions you should ask is...

What type of insurance do you accept?

One of the first locations to look into would be a facility that is in network with your insurance. Choosing a facility that is in network with your insurance can save you from high costs and additional charges. You always have the option of choosing a facility that is out of network if they are closer to home, have extended hours or overall better equipped to handle your specific case. Always remember the charge will be greater than an in network provider, but again that is always your choice.Any physical therapy office should be happy to help you in understanding your benefits and help you explore other options that will benefit you the most.

The second question you would like to ask is...

What type of therapy does the therapist specialize in?

Although all physical therapist are licensed they do specialize in specific areas such as sports, orthopedics, women's health, geriatrics and more. Depending on your symptoms choosing a therapist specialized in your case will ultimately help you return to your activites, healthier and stronger than previously. For example, if you are experiencing a skeletal or muscular injury, pain or discomfort, a therapist specializing in orthopedics would be a great fit for you.

Following their specialization, a good question to ask would be...

What injuries and conditions do they have experience with?

Choosing a physical therapist that is familiar and specialized in your particular injury may increase the effectiveness of treatments. They would have a better treatment plan catered to you to maximize the efficiency of your visits. Visiting the clinics website can also offer some insight into the expertise of the physical therapist.

Another good question to ask would be...

Does the therapist focus on more of the exercise aspect of therapy or manual therapy?

Both manual therapy and rehab exercises are crucial to optimizing your recovery from injury. Choosing a manual vs exercise-based physical therapist is somewhat a matter of preference, but could also influence your recovery depending on your injury. Ideally, a mix of both at various stages of recovery can be the most beneficial.

It is important to know how much time you will be spending in physical therapy...

How much time do I get with the therapist per appointment?

At some physical therapy offices you will receive as much as an hour of treatment time with your therapist, while with other facilities you may only receive 30 minutes or less. Depending on the facility and the therapist availability you may start your session with one therapist and then another may finish out your session. This can negatively affect your treatment and make progression difficult. Be sure to ask if a specific therapist will be treating you. In any case if a therapist is not making specific changes to your treatment plan, isn't spending enough time with you during your sessions or is not designing a specific treatment plan for you there is always the option of finding a therapist that caters to your needs.

Types of treatments...

How often are passive treatments used in physical therapy sessions?

Passive treatments were a common aspect of physical therapy treatments. Modalities included electrical stimulation, ultrasound and traction machines. Although treatment should not be limited to only one form of these treatments, modalities should only be a small fraction of the therapy visit.

Last but not least...

What should I expect on my first appointment?

The first visit should consist of an initial evaluation. A good tip is for you to arrive ready by having appropriate clothes, such as work out clothes with closed toe shoes. Physical therapy appointments are more detailed than other evaluations, it is easier to diagnose someone with "low back pain" but it is slightly more difficult to be able to determine "why is low back pain causing pain." An initial evaluation consists of a person’s subjective answers to questions regarding the condition, for example results of other physical examinations like an x-ray. The more in depth the information is about your condition the more the therapist will be able to customize your treatment for you. Be prepared to answer questions such as...

What specifically aggravates the pain?

What does the pain specifically feel like?

Which specific location(s) is your pain?

Does it come and go, or is it always constant?

What are your goals for physical therapy?

What are the activities and movements you would like to be able to do again?

How to Make Your Physical Therapy Sessions More Effective

Communication is a vital part of physical therapy being successful. Making sure you have the right physical therapist makes a huge difference. Not only is it on the physical therapist but it is also on you as well, being informed and taking responsibility through the recovery processes is an important process for you to be a part of. For any other questions please call Emery Physical Therapy at (847) 786-2014 or visit our website for more information.