Five Ways to Prepare for Your First Physical Therapy Appointment
As you begin physical therapy, you might wonder what you should do to prepare. Most patients ask me this question before starting their physical therapy sessions. It’s a great question! Let’s take a look at some suggestions. We have five helpful pointers to help you maximize your results!
1. Figure Out Why You Want to Be Treated
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is more critical than you might think. While your therapist will want to know about multiple pain locations and dysfunctions, it is best to consider the primary concern. Determining the main reason you want to enter therapy gives your therapist better direction when creating your care plan. Trying to fix everything at once usually results in mediocre results for all of them.
This can sometimes be difficult for those with multiple concerns because they impact you daily. Your therapist will help guide you through this process if you have trouble narrowing it down.
2. Write Down Your Questions and Concerns
I don’t know about you, but have you ever made an appointment to get something looked at by a healthcare professional and then never discussed that specific issue? I definitely have! I had a chronic rash. I made an appointment with my primary care physician. While the doctor asked questions, I never remembered to bring it up. It was not until I was driving home that I realized my mistake.
Healthcare professionals rely on the information you bring to the table to make decisions about your care. If you don’t ask? They will not be able to address it effectively.
3. Make a List of Activities You Have Difficulty With
Making a list of activities you currently have difficulty with will help your physical therapist tailor your treatment plan with these specific tasks in mind. It allows the therapist to pick the exercises that directly influence the structures involved in these activities.
Take the difference between knee pain getting out of the car vs. pain while pivoting on your foot. Poor hip control and activation can cause both of these. However, one activity is positioned with the foot off the ground, while the other is planted on the floor. This changes the biomechanics of the hip, and an exercise prescription for each will likely address the same muscles with different functional loads.
4. Find a Physical Therapist That Specializes in Your Condition
One of the first ways to find a physical therapist specializing in your condition is to ask your physician for a recommendation. Another way is to look at the letters following a Physical Therapist’s name.
For example, OCS stands for Orthopedic Clinical Specialist. This indicates that the therapist sat for a national board examination and has advanced clinical knowledge emphasizing the latest orthopedic physical therapy concepts.
Look at the website ChoosePT, which has a search option for local American Physical Therapy Association members. Usually, specialties are listed there as well.
5. Ask Yourself, How Ready Am I for Change?
Something you are doing or not doing is resulting in pain and dysfunction. Your physical therapist will assess and ask you to change your daily routine to address the impairments identified during your evaluation. Some kind of change is mandatory to see results. It may be as simple as doing 10 minutes of a home program daily to change your lifestyle completely.
The patients that see the most profound results are the ones that are ready to make the necessary changes.
The best way to succeed in your recovery is to be active in it. At AHCPT, we encourage you to form a partnership with your therapist, set goals for therapy, and work together towards them. Seeing the same therapist each time goes a long way towards that. Learn what a cooperative recovery looks like with AHCPT!