Physical therapy duration can run the gamut from just a handful of sessions to ongoing therapy that lasts a year or more. So how does your physical therapist determine how many sessions you need? There are many factors that go into this decision, and it may change over time. Here is what you should know.
Some conditions simply require more sessions than others. For example, if you are recovering from a heart attack or coping with chronic pain, you will likely need more sessions of physical therapy than if you are healing a twisted ankle. While each person is an individual, physical therapists know from the outset about how long a particular condition generally takes to resolve.
No two people experience the same injury or chronic condition in exactly the same way. Which muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons are involved matters, as does the extent of the damage. Your goals for treatment also make a difference. Are you trying to return to professional sports, or are you trying to get around town a little better? Your first appointment will consist of a detailed physical examination and a conversation about your issue and what you hope to achieve. The results of your initial evaluation will help to determine how many sessions you need.
Many insurance companies cover medically necessary physical therapy, but the number of visits per year is often limited. Some, like Medicare, may grant additional sessions under certain circumstances, but few insurers will keep paying forever. The number of sessions you have may be governed by the rules laid out by your insurance company.
Your physical therapist will closely monitor your progress at each session. If you progress more rapidly than anticipated, you may need fewer sessions. If your progress is slower than average, you might need additional sessions. You can help speed up your own progress by faithfully performing all home exercises between sessions as instructed. Avoid the urge to do more at home than you were told, though, as you could reinjure yourself and hamper your progress.
Your physical therapist will perform reevaluations at regular intervals depending on your needs and your insurance requirements. A reevaluation is basically a repeat of your initial evaluation, in which your physical therapist compares your abilities now to your abilities when you started. This is more precise than general progress monitoring, as each evaluation focuses on exactly the same set of data points. Your total number of sessions may change based on the results of your reevaluation.
Physical therapy is an art as well as a science. Since each person is different, physical therapists must use their knowledge, skills, and clinical judgment to design a customized treatment plan for every patient. Your number of sessions may vary as you move through therapy, but you can be certain that your physical therapist is making sound decisions for your health and wellbeing.
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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.