What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy defined in everyday terms is a treatment form used to help someone get better from a condition that limits and/or interferes with some aspect(s) of their daily life thus affecting their quality of life.  The American Physical Therapy Association defines the profession as “providing physical therapy services to patients who have impairments, functional limitations, disabilities, or changes in physical function and health status resulting from injury, disease, or other causes; or who require prevention, wellness, or fitness services.”

Your physical therapy begins with an interview with your therapist where pertinent information is gathered followed by an objective physical evaluation.  Following the initial evaluation, if treatment is indicated, a treatment plan is designed to address the findings.  We have various tools at our disposal that we may include in the plan of care.   Therapeutic ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and traction are some of the traditional modalities that are available to your therapist.  An integral part of your physical therapy will involve some form of strengthening and/or stretching exercise.  Additionally your therapist may evaluate your posture as incorrect postural positions can contribute to some of the problems that you are experiencing.


What should I wear?

Loose fitting and comfortable clothes should be worn to allow for optimal movement and comfort.  We encourage you not to wear jeans to your physical therapy visits.


How long is my appointment?

Your first appointment should take about one hour.  Follow-up appointment times may vary depending on the treatment plan that your therapist develops.


What should I bring with me?

Be sure to bring your physical therapy referral (provided to you by your doctor) and/or your authorization form (provided by your medical group), your insurance card, and your photo ID.  If you are covered under Workers' Compensation, bring your claim number and your case manager's contact information.  If you are covered by an auto insurance claim or an attorney's lien, please provide us with this information on your first visit.


What should I expect?

After an initial evaluation or assessment of the condition, needs, and functional and personal goals of a patient, the physical therapist formulates an individualized treatment plan to best meet these goals. A treatment plan is established by taking into consideration the diagnosis from the referring provider, ancillary data such as x-rays or MRIs and their reports, the initial evaluation by the therapist, and the patient and therapist’s established goals.   Additionally, a home program is an essential part of the treatment plan because it places you, the patient, at the center of your road to better health.  

Your physical therapist is the expert in treating the condition that you have been referred.  Your doctor may give you a slip of paper with recommendations regarding your therapy.  Please bring this in as it important for us to coordinate with your referring provider regarding the best course for your physical therapy treatment.  After the evaluation, your therapist will establish the best plan of care for you to help you achieve the desired outcomes.  Listed below are some of the things you might expect from your physical therapist:

Therapeutic Exercises/Activities: These are designed to improve muscular strength, joint range of motion, flexibility of various structures, endurance, coordination, and balance.

Movement Pattern Re-education: This includes gaining new or relearning old patterns of movement.  To accomplish this, your physical therapist may perform a postural analysis and/or gait assessment on your first visit.

Manual Techniques: Another way we can promote healing in tissues is with manual therapy. Manual therapy may include soft tissue mobilizations, joint mobilizations, and other techniques that your therapist has been trained on. Using these hands-on approaches help as an adjunct to restore muscle mobility and function. The effects of these manual techniques may include increased movement, improved healing, reduction of pressure on specific tissues, restoration of proper movement patterns, and pain and symptom reduction.

Modalities: This is the general term given to devices and tools used to reduce symptoms and aid in tissue healing. Hot and cold packs, electrical stimulation, therapeutic ultrasound, and mechanical traction are some examples of typical physical therapy modalities that your therapist may use. These modalities play a supportive role to the other interventions used by your therapist.  However our emphasis is empowering our patients to take an active role in their healthcare by emphasizing therapy specific exercises in the clinic as well as exercises that can be incorporated into a home program. 

Postural Analysis:  The postural analysis may be a critical part of your physical therapy evaluation.  Often times improper posture and/or movement mechanics play a major role in a person's condition.  Your physical therapist can help you to identify these issues and point you in the right direction.

Patient Education/Home Exercise Program Training: Necessary for daily maintenance and/or progression of strength, flexibility, and mobility.  It is also important for correcting "maladaptive" postures or movement patterns, and for avoidance of patterns of behavior or movement that contribute to the problem.

Re-evaluations are performed to assess the progress of the physical therapy treatment plan.  The re-evaluation will help the therapist determine the necessity of continuing physical therapy.  Your medical group and insurance provider will often require that a re-evaluation be made to determine if further services will be covered.  The following are a couple of guidelines that help your therapist and insurance provider determine if continuation of physical therapy is warranted:

1)  Measurable progress is made toward functional physical therapy goals

2)  Continued functional progress that requires the skill of a physical therapist

3)  Your insurance benefits have not been exhausted for the year


How many visits will I need?

This will depend on your condition.  You may need one visit or multiple follow-up visits to address the identified problems and goals.  Your therapist will be able to perform periodic reassessments to determine whether continued physical therapy would be beneficial.  Our facility is not intended to be used as a gym because your insurance may authorize you to come in for therapy sessions.  We aim to be financially responsible and accountable to your insurance company.


What conditions do you treat?

Our facility caters to a variety of neurological, orthopedic, spinal, and extremity conditions. Our patient population includes some of the following: patients with residual deficits from a neurological condition such as a stroke, acute and chronic pain including conditions arising from a variety of arthritic conditions, work, sports, and personal injuries, degenerative changes of the joints and spine, pre-surgical and post-surgical conditions, and non-surgical conditions of the shoulders, elbows, hands, hips, knees, ankles, and feet.  As an integral part of the treatment plan, an individualized home exercise program is designed specifically for each patient’s physical condition.


Do I need an authorization or referral?

If you have an HMO policy and have insurance through a medical group, you will need an authorization from that medical group authorizing physical therapy to our facility before we can schedule your appointment.  Please be aware that your authorization is only valid if you are continuously insured and have not changed your medical group at the time of your visits.  If you have a Medicare plan, you will need a referral from your doctor indicating your diagnosis and the length of time (how many times per week for how many weeks) to be in physical therapy.  If you are coming in with a Worker's Compensation claim, we will need your adjusters information so that we may contact him or her to get an authorization for your physical therapy.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us and we will do our best to answer your questions.