Answers to Common Physical Therapy Questions

Sep 13, 2023
If you have never been to physical therapy before, you might wonder what to expect. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about physical therapy.

Answers to Common Physical Therapy Questions

If you have never been to physical therapy before, you might wonder what to expect. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about physical therapy.

Do I need a referral for physical therapy?

It depends. New York allows patients to attend 30 days of physical therapy without a referral through a process called “direct access.” If you need to extend your time in physical therapy, then you must get a referral from a physician. In addition, not all insurance companies allow direct access. Medicare in particular has very specific guidelines that must be followed. It is your responsibility to verify your insurance coverage before we begin.

What should I expect on my first visit?

Your first visit will last approximately one hour, and will consist of a thorough evaluation and screening. We will gather your medical history and the history of your current issue, and perform a variety of hands-on tests to learn more about your condition. We will then formulate a clinical opinion and develop a customized treatment plan based on our findings and your stated goals for therapy.

What types of interventions do you use?

We offer a wide range of therapeutic interventions. Targeted exercise and functional movement training are at the core of what we do, but we may also use manual therapy techniques, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, ice, heat, and many other interventions as well. We will also prescribe exercises and techniques for you to perform at home between visits.

How long are appointments?

Your screening appointment will take about an hour. Later appointments may last between 30 and 90 minutes, depending on the specifics of your condition and the rehabilitation that is required. There is no single appointment length that works for everyone.

How do you track my progress?

We will perform a complete reevaluation every 30 days, in which we will repeat the tests and diagnostic measures that we performed at your initial evaluation. This allows us to directly compare your results to your baseline measurements. Continuing therapy will be based on the results of your reevaluation, along with your physician’s approval and your insurance’s authorization. We send all results to your physician for consideration.

Will I need maintenance care?

It is always best to embark on a maintenance plan after you are discharged from physical therapy. We will discuss your future needs shortly before officially discharging you. If your problem should recur, ask your physician to provide an updated prescription and we will be happy to reevaluate you for a possible return to physical therapy.

What should I wear?

Physical therapy is an active process, so dress comfortably in loose-fitting clothing. T-shirts, shorts or yoga pants, and sneakers are ideal. Be sure that your clothing allows us to easily access the affected area of your body. For example, a tank top is ideal for patients with a shoulder dysfunction, while shorts are best for patients with a knee or ankle injury.

What should I bring to my first appointment?

Please bring your insurance card and any paperwork we sent you to complete. If you have a referral from your physician, please bring it along. It is helpful to bring in any recent test results you have, such as x-rays or MRIs. If you use any type of assistive device, such as a brace, crutches, and/or a cane, please bring those items as well.

Why should I choose physical therapy?

While medications can help manage symptoms, and we might recommend continuing your medications while undergoing physical therapy, medications are not a long-term cure. The goal for physical therapy is to resolve your issue rather than simply treating the symptoms. We take a holistic approach to your health and well-being, focusing on functional movement to help you return to your regular activities.

What is my responsibility in physical therapy?

Physical therapy is fully collaborative, and only you can ensure your success. We provide you with the tools you need, and ensure that you progress in a safe manner, but you are the one who must do your exercises and follow your home program. The more compliant you are, the better results you will see. Of course, we always encourage you to ask questions and become as informed as possible about your condition, your progress, and your treatment plan.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are ready for the latest physical therapy treatments for your pain or injury, contact Manhattan Physical Therapy and Pain Center today at (212) 213-3480 to learn how we can help.