What to Expect from Your First Physical Therapy Session

Posted in May 16, 2023
By Dan Wheeler
What to Expect from Your First Physical Therapy Session

If you’ve never visited a physical therapist before, you probably have a lot of questions about the benefits of physical therapy, what to expect, and how to prepare for your first physical therapy session. Most physical therapists begin with an initial physical therapy evaluation, where they will get to know you, find out why you’re seeking treatment, and ask you questions about your symptoms, lifestyle, and treatment goals. After that initial session, the physical therapist will create a personalized treatment plan designed to eventually help you achieve a healthier, happier, pain-free life. At Strong Oaks Physical Therapy, we’re committed to making physical therapy accessible for all. We offer a free, 15-minute telehealth consultation so that you can determine if physical therapy is right for you. You don’t need a physician’s referral to seek treatment from us—simply call us today at (802) 424-1434.

What is Physical Therapy? 

Physical therapy is a form of treatment focused on easing pain and stiffness, reducing inflammation, improving flexibility and range of motion, and restoring mobility. You may consider physical therapy after being injured, undergoing surgery, or experiencing side effects from illness that affect your movement, balance, or mobility. Physical therapy can also be preventative care, helping a patient reduce their risk of injury or pain and preventing sports injuries or on-the-job injuries for at-risk patients. Physical therapists can also help patients manage chronic illnesses like diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease. 

Who Can Benefit from Physical Therapy? 

Physical therapists treat patients of all ages, abilities, and severities. This includes patients who have medical conditions, illnesses, and injuries that affect their ability to participate in work, hobbies, and normal daily activities. A physician may refer a patient to a physical therapist if the patient wants to avoid the need for surgery, just had surgery, needs help adjusting to a corrective device like a brace or walker, or is experiencing physical side effects from an injury. 

Physical Therapy vs. Other Treatment Options

Physical therapy is often used as an alternative to more invasive treatment options, like surgery. You may also undergo physical therapy sessions as you recover from surgery or an injury. 

Finding a Physical Therapist

You may be referred to a physical therapist by your physician, surgeon, or primary care doctor. You can also find one on your own. Ask family and friends for referrals, or look at the website of physical therapists in your area. Check their references and online reviews, and look over their education and experience. If they offer a free consultation or evaluation, schedule one so that you can get a feel for how they treat their patients. If possible, visit their office as well. You can also contact the American Physical Therapy Association or use their online directory to find a physical therapist near you. 

Preparing for Your First Physical Therapy Appointment

Your first session with your physical therapist will be an initial evaluation. You can prepare for this appointment by having all relevant medical records available for reference. You can also make a list of your symptoms or complaints, when they started, and if anything offers relief or exacerbates them. You should also prepare a list of questions for your physical therapist so that you won’t forget to ask any questions you have. 

Your physical therapist will do a full physical examination, and may recommend diagnostic testing like blood tests, x-rays, or imaging scans. He will likely ask you to complete certain simple physical movements so that he can assess and evaluate your gait, posture, balance, flexibility, range of motion, and mobility. He will then answer your questions and talk to you about a treatment plan. 

Ongoing Treatment and Care

If you decide to proceed with treatment after your initial physical therapy evaluation, you will schedule continuous or ongoing physical therapy sessions. During these sessions, your physical therapist will provide instruction and education, therapeutic modalities, and advice on modifying your daily routine or work tasks to provide relief from symptoms while you heal. Your physical therapist will also assist you with therapeutic exercises and stretches, soft-tissue massage or manipulation, and other treatments designed to reduce pain and inflammation and restore range of motion. He may give you exercises to complete at home as well. Most patients undergo physical therapy sessions once a week, but you and your physical therapist can discuss the schedule that’s right for you and your needs. 

Learn More and Schedule an Appointment at Strong Oaks Physical Therapy Today!

If you’re interested in finding out if physical therapy is right for you, contact us today at Strong Oaks Physical Therapy. We offer a free 15-minute initial physical therapy evaluation via video call, so you can find out if we’re a good fit for you and your needs. We also offer affordable ongoing physical therapy sessions in St. Johnsbury, VT, with our experienced, compassionate physical therapist, Dr. Wheeler. To learn more or to schedule an evaluation or initial appointment, call us today at (802) 424-1434 or book an appointment online

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About The Author

Dan Wheeler
Physical Therapist
I never grew up thinking I was going to be in this role. I never had dreams or ever said it was my goal to be a Physical Therapist, but yet somehow this profession found me. Now, this is not just a job, and it is definitely not about the money. I truly live for this.

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