Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
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What happens during my first visit?
During your first visit you can expect the following:
- Arrive at your appointment with your paperwork completed (you can download it from our website - see the paperwork or forms link).
- You will provide us with your referral for physical therapy if you have one. If you don't have a referral, let us know when you schedule your first visit with us (note - a referral is not always needed).
- We will copy your insurance card.
- You will be seen for the initial evaluation by the therapist.
- The therapist will discuss the following:
- Your medical history.
- Your current problems/complaints.
- Pain intensity, what aggravates and eases the problem.
- How this is impacting your daily activities or your functional limitations.
- Your goals with physical therapy.
- Medications, tests, and procedures related to your health.
- The therapist will then perform the objective evaluation which may include some of the following:
- Palpation - touching around the area of the pain/problem. This is done to check for the presence of tenderness, swelling, soft tissue integrity, tissue temperature, inflammation, etc.
- Range of Motion (ROM) - the therapist will move the joint(s) to check for the quality of movement and any restrictions.
- Muscle Testing - the therapist may check for strength and the quality of the muscle contraction. Pain and weakness may be noted. Often the muscle strength is graded. This is also part of a neurological screening.
- Neurological Screening - the therapist may check to see how the nerves are communicating with the muscles, sensing touch, pain, vibration, or temperature. Reflexes may be assessed as well.
- Special Tests - the therapist may perform special tests to confirm/rule out the presence of additional problems.
- Posture Assessment - the positions of joints relative to ideal and each other may be assessed.
The therapist will then formulate a list of problems you are having, and how to treat those problems. A plan is subsequently developed with the patient's input. This includes how many times you should see the therapist per week, how many weeks you will need therapy, home programs, patient education, short-term/long-term goals, and what is expected after discharge from therapy. This plan is created with input from you, your therapist, and your doctor.
How should I dress?
You should wear loose-fitting clothing to expose the area that we will be evaluating and treating. For example, if you have a knee problem, it is best to wear shorts. For a shoulder problem, a tank top is a good choice. For low back problems, wear a loose-fitting shirt and pants, again so we can perform a thorough examination.
How long will each treatment last?
Treatment sessions typically last 30 to 60 minutes per visit.
Why is physical therapy a good choice?
More than half of all Americans are suffering from pain. Whether it is a recent episode or chronic, an ABC News/Stanford study revealed that pain in America is a serious problem. However, many do not even know that physical therapists are well equipped to not only treat pain but also its source.
Physical therapists are experts at treating movement and neuro-musculoskeletal disorders. Pain often accompanies a movement disorder, and physical therapists can help correct the disorder and relieve the pain.
What do physical therapists do?
You have probably heard of the profession of physical therapy. Maybe you have spoken with a friend about how physical therapy helped get rid of their back pain, or you might know someone who needed physical therapy after an injury. You might even have been treated by a physical therapist yourself. But have you ever wondered about physical therapists--who they are and what they do? Many people are familiar with physical therapists' work helping patients with orthopedic problems, such as low back pain or knee surgeries, reduce pain and regain function. Others may be aware of the treatment that physical therapists provide to assist patients recovering from a stroke (e.g., assisting them with recovering using their limbs and walking again).
The ability to maintain an upright posture and to move your arms and legs to perform all sorts of tasks and activities is an important component of your health. Most of us can learn to live with the various medical conditions that we may develop, but only if we can continue at our jobs, take care of our families, and enjoy important occasions with family and friends. All of these activities require the ability to move without difficulty or pain.
Because physical therapists are experts in movement and function, they do not confine their talents to treating people who are ill. Preventing injury, loss of movement, and even surgery is a large part of a physical therapist's program. Physical therapists work as consultants in industrial settings to improve the design of the workplace and reduce the risk of workers overusing certain muscles or developing low back pain. They also provide sports therapy and sports performance services for athletes of all levels to screen for potential problems and institute preventive exercise programs. With the boom in the golf and fitness industries, several physical therapists provide consulting services for recreational golfers and fitness clubs to develop safe and effective workouts, especially for people who already know that they have a problem with their joints or backs.
The cornerstones of physical therapy treatment are therapeutic exercise and functional training. In addition to "hands-on" care, physical therapists also educate patients to take care of themselves and perform certain exercises independently. Depending on the particular needs, physical therapists may also "mobilize" a joint (that is, perform certain types of movements at the end of your range of motion) or massage a muscle to promote proper movement and function. Physical therapists also use methods such as ultrasound (which uses high-frequency waves to produce heat), hot packs, and ice.
Although other practitioners may offer some of these treatments as "physical therapy," only qualified physical therapists or physical therapist assistants who must complete a 2-year education program and work only under the direction and supervision of physical therapists can provide physical therapy.
Your insurance will cover most forms of physical therapy treatment, but the coverage will vary with each plan. All 50 states offer direct access to physical therapy, which means that patients are not necessarily required to see their physicians before seeing a physical therapist. In many cases, all you have to do is ask your doctor if physical therapy is right for you. Contact us for more information on direct access.
Who pays for the treatment?
Is physical therapy painful?
For many patients, one of the primary objectives is pain relief. This is frequently accomplished with hands-on techniques, modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and/or heat or cold therapy. Movement often provides pain relief as well. Your physical therapist will provide you with the appropriate exercises not only for pain relief but to recover range of motion, strength, and endurance.
In some cases, physical therapy techniques can be painful. For example, recovering knee range of motion after total knee replacement or shoulder range of motion after shoulder surgery may be painful. Your physical therapist will utilize a variety of techniques to help maximize your treatment goals. It is important that you communicate the intensity, frequency, and duration of pain to your therapist. Without this information, it is difficult for the therapist to adjust your treatment plan.
What happens if my problem or pain returns?
Flare ups are not uncommon. If you have a flare up (exacerbation), give us a call. We may suggest you come back to see us, return to your doctor, or simply modify your daily activities or exercise routine.
Can I go to any physical therapy clinic?
In most cases, you have the right to choose any physical therapy clinic. Our practice is a provider for many different insurance plans.
The best thing to do is give us a call and we will attempt to answer all of your questions.
Can I go directly to my physical therapist?
All fifty states have some form of direct access. In most cases, if you are not making significant improvement within 30 days, the therapist will refer you to/back to your physician.
Seeing a physical therapist first is safe and could save you hundreds of dollars or even thousands of dollars. Click here for details
How does the billing process work?
Billing for physical therapy services is similar to what happens at your doctor's office. When you are seen for treatment, the following occurs:
- The physical therapist bills your insurance company, Workers' Comp, or charges you based on Common Procedure Terminology (CPT) codes.
- Those codes are transferred to a billing form that is either mailed or electronically communicated to the payer.
- The payer processes this information and makes payments according to an agreed upon fee schedule.
- An Explanation of Benefits (EOB) is generated and sent to the patient and the physical therapy clinic with a check for payment and a balance due by the patient.
- The patient is expected to make the payment on the balance if any.
It is important to understand that there are many small steps (beyond the outline provided above) within the process. Exceptions are common to the above example as well. At any time along the way, information may be missing, miscommunicated, or misunderstood. This can delay the payment process. While it is common for the payment process to be completed in 60 days or less, it is not uncommon for the physical therapy clinic to receive payment as long as six months after the treatment date.
What will I have to do after physical therapy?
Some patients will need to continue with home exercises. Some may choose to continue with a gym exercise program. Others will complete their rehabilitation and return to normal daily activities. It is important that you communicate your goals to your therapist, so he/she can develop a custom program for you.
Is my therapist licensed?
Physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) are licensed by their respective states.