What to Expect at Your First Physical Therapy Appointment: A New Patient’s Guide
What should you expect when you visit the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin for physical therapy? For new patients, your first physical therapy appointment might be a little scary or overwhelming. Thankfully, our talented team of orthopedic specialists is here to put your mind at ease. We put our patients first to ensure they are always comfortable and enjoy a great experience. Whether you are coming to therapy following surgery, injury, or an onset of pain, the goal of our physical therapists is to help you feel better, move more fluidly, and be more confident.
Your First Physical Therapy Appointment
When you arrive at one of our physical therapy clinics, you can expect to be greeted by a beautiful fish tank and the smiling faces of our staff working at the front desk. Our front desk team is there to assist with all the initial paperwork, benefit updates, and further scheduling needs. After completing the initial paperwork, which can also be mailed and completed before your first appointment, you will meet your physical therapist (PT).
At this time, you’ll discuss the reason that brings you to therapy, including painful areas, tasks/activities that may be difficult to perform, and goals that you would like to achieve while in our care. Your PT will also ask you questions about your medical history and current healthcare needs. Once the therapist has a good understanding of what brings you to therapy, they will conduct a thorough investigation of the body part affected by your condition or injury. Most commonly, this will include an assessment of how you walk, your joint mobility, strength, soft tissue restrictions, flexibility, balance, and functional activities.
After determining functional limitations and impairments, your therapist will provide you with proper education on what may be happening with your body. They will also begin to tell you what interventions will help you achieve your goals, such as relieving pain, optimizing your recovery from an injury or surgery, or simply returning to “normal.”
Your Personalized Physical Program
Physical therapy interventions can vary from manual treatment, such as massage or joint mobilization, exercise, and different modalities, including the application of a cold or hot pack. A more complete list of our physical therapy services can be found on our website. At OHOW, our PTs work closely with the doctor who has sent you to therapy for your ailment. This could include your primary care physician, internist, or orthopedic surgeon. Each doctor is different and may have a specific protocol (depending on your surgery/injury) or intervention recommended to better your recovery. Your doctor’s recovery recommendations are the starting point for your personalized plan for your physical therapy treatment.
Your personalized physical therapy plan will commonly include therapeutic exercise to build your strength, flexibility, and endurance. To minimize your pain and swelling, your physical therapy team will apply their expert problem-solving skills to find what works best for you. Before you leave your first session, your physical therapist will ensure that you understand your new exercises and give pictures to complete them at home on your own.
Each following session is geared towards your specific needs and your recovery. Typically, a session will start with discussing how things are going and how your body is feeling. Next, your physical therapist will check in on how your home exercise program is working. They may add new exercises or try a new manual technique throughout the treatment sessions. On average, each session lasts about 45 minutes. Plan to attend therapy about two times per week for four to six weeks and to work one-on-one with your therapist for the entire time. Along the path to recovery, you and your therapist will work together to monitor your progress and goals – and to optimize your recovery.