Preparing For Your Visit
Physical therapists are highly educated, licensed health care professionals who help patients improve or restore mobility, and in many cases helping patients reduce pain, and avoid the need for surgery and the long-term use of prescription medications and their side effects.
Physical therapists examine, evaluate, and treat patients whose conditions limit their ability to move and function in daily life. Your physical therapist’s overall goal is to maintain, restore, or improve your mobility and help reduce your pain.
You can make an appointment with a physical therapist without a physician referral. Whether this is your first visit or you’ve been treated by a physical therapist in the past, there are things you can do to make your visit as successful as possible.
Before Your Visit:
Make a list of any questions that you might have, so that you can make the best use of your time with your physical therapist.
Write down any symptoms you’ve been having and for how long. If you have more than one symptom, begin with the one that is the most bothersome to you.
Make specific notes about your symptoms. For example, is your pain or other symptom:
- Better or worse with certain activities or movements or with certain positions, such as sitting or standing?
- More noticeable at certain times of day?
- Relieved or made worse by resting?
Write down key information about your medical history, even if it seems unrelated to the condition for which you are seeing the physical therapist.
Make a list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements that you are taking.
Make a note of any important personal information, including recent stressful events in your life.
Write down and describe any injuries, incidents, or environmental factorsthat you believe might have contributed to your condition.
Make a list of any medical conditions of your parents or siblings.
Consider taking a family member or trusted friend along to help you remember details from your own health history and to take notes about what is discussed during your visit.
Make sure you can see and hear as well as possible. If you wear glasses, take them with you. If you use a hearing aid, make certain that it is working well, and wear it. Tell your physical therapist and clinic staff if you have a hard time seeing or hearing. For example, you may want to say, “I have difficulty hearing. It’s helpful to me when you speak slowly.”
If available, bring any lab or diagnostic reports from other health care professionals who have treated you for your current condition.
Bring a list of the names of your physician and other health care professionals that you would like your physical therapist to contact regarding your evaluation and your progress.
When you call to make your appointment, ask whether you should wear or bring a certain type of clothing when you come for your first visit. You may want to avoid tight or formal clothes, in case the therapist wants you to engage in activities during the first session.