What to expect at a physical therapy evaluation

Physical therapy treatments can be an effective way to treat a range of conditions. With plenty of tools and skills, an experienced physical therapist can help you work toward long-term relief and recovery. If you are a newcomer to physical therapy, you may wonder how this all gets started. The process of physical therapy can seem mysterious. By learning more about what to expect, you can go into your first visit with confidence.

Many people begin physical therapy without understanding the source of their symptoms. In these situations, how do physical therapists know what to treat? The answer is a physical therapy evaluation. An initial evaluation tends to last between 45 minutes and one hour. This marks the first step on your journey to recovery and a higher quality of life. During this evaluation, you can learn more about physical therapy and your own condition. Understanding the process beforehand can make some people more comfortable when their actual physical therapy evaluation comes.

Elements of a physical therapy evaluation

  • Initial discussion — A comprehensive assessment typically starts with a talk between you and your new physical therapist. Your physical therapist may begin with a review of your medical history. Feel free to mention any of your medical conditions, surgeries, allergies and medications. Having this information can help your physical therapist to better understand your health. Aspects of your medical history may factor into the development of your treatment plan later on. In addition to prior medical history, you can discuss your current symptoms. It can help to come prepared. Try taking notes whenever you experience symptoms before your appointment. Record their intensity and duration if possible. This information can help your physical therapist provide effective treatment.
  • Physical examination — The physical examination is a key part of any physical therapy evaluation. This step typically involves a full assessment of your muscles and bones. Depending on your symptoms, your physical therapist may also focus on specific joints and tendons. Your posture and flexibility might also be evaluated here. During the examination, your physical therapist may ask for feedback about discomfort or pain. Answering questions honestly can lead to more accurate results.
  • Functional assessment — Do you have trouble with certain everyday tasks? Difficulty participating in regular activities is one common reason people seek physical therapy. Physical therapy evaluations often include a functional assessment. This can help your therapist understand your limitations. A functional assessment can help assess your physical abilities. Your physical therapist may want to test your ability to perform tasks such as reaching for objects and climbing stairs. By identifying your limitations, your physical therapist can focus on areas where you need improvement.
  • Evaluation results — Once your physical therapy evaluation is complete, your physical therapist can provide the results. Feel free to discuss any aspect of the results. If you do not understand something, your physical therapist can give an explanation. If applicable in your case, the results may also come with a diagnosis. Asking questions and seeking clarification at this point can be essential. It is important to maintain open communication with your physical therapist. When the results are clear, you can begin discussing treatment options.
  • Treatment development — Physical therapy treatment plans are tailored to each patient. Your treatment plan will be created based on many factors. The primary influences are your physical therapist’s recommendations and your own input. The initial plan will outline specific exercises and other interventions. These may be used at different points during the course of your treatment. You can discuss any specific treatment and session frequency with your physical therapist.
  • Scheduling future sessions — The initial physical therapy evaluation can signal the start of a rewarding journey. Before the end of your first session, you will typically schedule a follow-up. It can help to create an ongoing schedule that will work with your other commitments. Some treatments, such as certain exercises, are designed to be completed at home between sessions. The sessions are where you will receive hands-on care and one-on-one guidance from your physical therapy team.

Receive a comprehensive evaluation at Lattimore Physical Therapy

Ready for your first physical therapy session? At Lattimore Physical Therapy, you can experience a welcoming environment with friendly staff. Our skilled physical therapists take the time necessary for a productive initial assessment. A great first session can be key to setting up a successful treatment experience. With a range of methods available, we can help you start working toward a healthier future.

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.

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