What to expect at physical therapy

Physical therapy is a healthcare specialty that deals with the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of the musculoskeletal system, neurological, and cardiac system and how those afflictions affect interaction and physical movement. The goal is to restore maximum functional independence to every patient. This is generally done through exercise, heat and/or cold applications, electricity, and massage.

Your first visit will include an initial evaluation and a treatment. Your physical therapist will begin by asking you questions about your general health as well as about the specific condition for which you are there. This information will help him or her determine whether you are likely to benefit from physical therapy and which treatments are most likely to help you.

The physical therapist will also perform a detailed examination and may evaluate your strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, posture, and blood pressure, as well as heart and respiration rates. He or she may also use his or her hands to examine or the affected area and/or to perform a detailed examination of the mobility of your joints, muscles, and other tissues.

Another thing that will occur during your first appointment is that you will be asked to set goals for your therapy because setting goals is the best way to achieve a successful rehabilitation outcome. Therefore, when you start physical therapy, you must think about what is it that you want to accomplish by the end of your program. While these goals should be important to you, they must also be realistic and attainable. Once your goals are set, your physical therapist will then work with you to devise an appropriate treatment program to help achieve them.

Bear in mind that your goals are changeable, especially if you are having difficulty attaining them. At that point, you may need to work with your therapist to adjust your goals. Your physical therapy goals should focus on improving your mobility and overall function so you can do the things you want and need to do.

Before your appointment is complete, you will be instructed on therapeutic exercises you can do at home, learn how to manage and care for your symptoms, receive manual therapy if necessary, and may be treated with some type of therapeutic modalities.

Treatment sessions generally last between 30 and 60 minutes per visit. The number of visits you will need depends on your diagnosis, the severity of your impairments, and your past medical history. You should be re-evaluated monthly and when you see your doctor. You doctor should receive progress reports from the physical therapist.

There are many different specialties within the realm of physical therapy. You may receive the most common physical therapy specialist, orthopedic physical therapy which is recommended for post-surgical patients, those suffering from arthritis, muscle sprains and strains, neck and back pain, hip and knee problems, shoulder, elbow, and wrist conditions, or tendinitis/tendinosis, as well as those who need fracture rehabilitation. However, you may also be sent to neurological therapy for issues that have greater mobility issues.