What to expect from Physical Therapy?

Being a Physical Therapist and a former patient I know a lot about both sides of the spectrum. When I was younger I was pitching in a baseball game and had horrible pain in my elbow during and after the game. It hurt so bad that I had to stop playing completely! It was not getting any better with rest so my family doctor decided to send me to Physical Therapy. You can imagine what crossed my mind…what in the world is Physical Therapy? Better yet, what am I going to have to do there? My mom booked my appointment and I was scheduled 2 days later. Now remember, I am 36 now and this was when I was in 8th grade. There was no internet or google to go to to try and read about it. Blogs were nonexistant. So my parents and I had no idea what to expect or what I was going to have to do there. 

The next day my mom took me to my appointment. I just remember her having to fill out a bunch of paper work at first. I was put into a treatment room and we sat and waited for the PT to come in. I just remember thinking…this seems pretty similar to a doctors office. Well a knock on the door came and in comes a man that was probably around the same age I am now. Bright, bubbly and full of energy! Suddenly my nerves calmed and I felt as though this was going to be a place I would look forward to coming to!
He introduced himself, started asking us a bunch of questions and began treatment. I remember him taking me into the gym where there was a lot of equipment that looked really fun to use! He took me through a bunch of different activities and game me a packet of things to do at home until I came back. Before I knew it my session was over and we were out at the front desk scheduling for the remainder of the week. This one session of PT was an imprint to me and was one of the reasons I became a Physical Therapist! Now, everyones experience at PT is going to be different. Mine was a very positive one! This made me want to come back for more! 

Going to PT, or anywhere for the first time can be stressful. You have no clue what to expect. You have heard stories about what your neighbor down the street said about the pain she was put in. Or how P.T. stands for Pain and Torture! Well I am here to tell you that everyone has a different experience with PT and yours will most likely be completely different than anyone elses. 

When you first arrive at the office you should be greated by a staff member to get some quick information such as insurance card, drivers license and MD prescription if you are not coming Direct Access. (we will get to that in another post). You will have to fill out some paper work so that the PT can get a better grasp on what you are having difficulty with. 

Now it’s finally time! You are heading back to the room to get evaluated. Most PT’s, including myself, will introduce themselves when they walk in and begin asking you a series of questions to try and focus on the problem that you are having. We take you through a variety of tests to try and figure out what is wrong and what we can do for treatment. Once the exam is over we begin treatment. Depending on where you go some PT’s use modalities such as electric stim, heat, ice etc…some go right into treatment. Manual therapy is a main treatment in PT. Hands on therapy is key to success in my opinion. Weather it’s a form of soft tissue massage, stretching or resistance exercises. Exercise is mixed into all of this as well that is specific for your condition. Homework will be given so that you can do this stuff at home until you are seen again. 

What you need to know is that you are coming to  us because of a lot of different things. Weather it’s pain, weakness, decreased mobility, decreased function, inability to swing a golf club, having trouble playing with your kids/grandkids the list goes on and on! Our job is to focus on your overall function and to try and get you back to an active life!

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