What happens during my first visit?
During your first visit you can expect the following:
- Arrive at your appointment and fill out intake paperwork.
- You will provide us with your prescription for physical therapy.
- 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.
What should I bring with me?
Make sure you bring your physical therapy prescription (provided to you by your doctor) and your payment information. If your insurance is covering the cost of physical therapy, bring your insurance card. If you are covered by Workers’ Compensation, bring your claim number and your case manager’s contact information. If you are covered by auto insurance or an attorney lien, make sure you bring this information.
How should I dress?
You should wear loose fitting clothing so you can 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, and for low back problems, wear a loose fitting shirt and pants, again so we can perform a thorough examination.
How long is each session?
Each session is about an hour long.
How many visits will I need?
This is highly variable. You may need one visit or you may need months of care. It depends on your diagnosis, the severity of your impairments, your past medical history, etc. You will be re-evaluated on a monthly basis and when you see your doctor, we will provide you with a progress report with our recommendations.
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. Physical therapy is a holistic non invasive treatment that has low risks and side effects. Treatment is always customized to each individual patient.
Who pays for my treatment?
In most cases, health insurance will cover your treatment. In some cases you will be required to pay a copay. Click on our insurance link above for a summary of insurances we accept and make sure you talk to our receptionist so we can help you clarify your insurance coverage.
Will I get a massage?
Massage may be part of your treatment. Rehabilitation specialists are trained in a variety of techniques that may help with your recovery. Deep tissue techniques may be part of the rehabilitative process. Massage is used for three reasons typically – to facilitate venous return from a swollen area, to relax a tight muscle, or to relieve pain. Contrary to common thought, massage does not increase circulation.
What happens if my problem 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 a physical therapist without seeing a physician first?
All fifty states have some form of direct access, including Pennsylvania. Depending on your insurance coverage, our therapist can see you for up to 30 days without a prescription. In most cases, if you are not making significant improvement within 30 days, the therapist will refer you to/back to your physician.
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 do I do after I complete my course of 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.