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What is physical therapy?
Physical therapists are healthcare professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to the very oldest, who have medical problems or other health-related conditions, illnesses, or injuries that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities as well as they would like in their daily lives.
Physical therapy has many specialties including sports, wound care, cardiopulmonary, geriatrics, neurologic, orthopedics and pediatrics. Physical therapists practice in many settings, such as outpatient clinics, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, private homes, schools, hospices, industrial workplaces or other occupational environments, fitness centers and sports training facilities.
What do physical therapists do?
Physical therapists are ‘movement experts’ and work to restore patient’s movement and function. Many people are familiar with physical therapists work helping patients with orthopedic problems, such as low back pain or knee surgeries, to reduce pain and regain function. Others may be aware of the treatment that physical therapists provide to assist patients recovering from a stroke (e.g., assisting them with recovering use of their limbs and walking again).
The ability to maintain an upright posture and to move your arms and legs to perform all sorts of tasks and activities is an important component of your health. Most of us can learn to live with the various medical conditions that we may develop, but only if we are able to continue at our jobs, take care of our families, and enjoy important occasions with family and friends. All of these activities require the ability to move without difficulty or pain. Physical therapists work with patient’s to minimize pain and help patients be able to complete their daily work and home activities.
Because physical therapists are experts in movement and function, they do not confine their talents to treating people who are ill. A large part of a physical therapist’s program is directed at preventing injury, loss of movement, and even surgery. Physical therapists work as consultants in industrial settings to improve the design of the workplace and reduce the risk of workers overusing certain muscles or developing low back pain. They also provide services to athletes at all levels to screen for potential problems and institute preventive exercise programs.
The cornerstones of physical therapy treatment are therapeutic exercise and functional training. In addition to “hands-on” care, physical therapists also educate patients to take care of themselves and to perform certain exercises on their own. Depending on the particular needs of a patient, physical therapists may also “mobilize” a joint (that is, perform certain types of movements at the end of your range of motion) or complete manual therapy to a muscle to promote proper movement and function. Physical therapists also use methods such as ultrasound (which uses high frequency waves to produce heat) or electrical stimulation. Although other kinds of practitioners will offer some of these treatments as “physical therapy,” it’s important for you to know that physical therapy can only be provided by licensed physical therapists or physical therapist assistants.
Not sure if physical therapy is right for you: all you have to do is ask your doctor!
Why are people referred to physical therapy?
You and others may be referred to physical therapy because of a movement dysfunction associated with pain. Your difficulty with moving part(s) of your body (like bending your knee to squat and pick up a laundry basket or difficulty sleeping on your shoulder, etc.) very likely results in limitations with your daily activities (e.g., difficulty getting out of a bed, an inability to play sports, or trouble with walking, etc.). physical therapists treat these movement dysfunctions and their associated pains and restore your body’s ability to move in a normal manner.
What do I need to bring with me to my first appointment?
Please bring your prescription for therapy from your doctor, your insurance card, a list of your medications and any paperwork you were given to complete prior to the evaluation.
What happens during my first visit?
You will be asked to arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment with your therapist to complete paperwork and review your insurance benefits. You will be asked to complete a symptoms questionnaire. Your physical therapist will complete an evaluation, examining posture, range of motion, balance, strength, gait, joint mobility and completing special tests. Your therapist will discuss with you your medical history and medications, current problems, pain intensity and what aggravates/eases the pain, how your daily activities are impacted, and what your goals are from therapy. Upon gathering all needed information, your therapist will inform and educate you about treatment options and the course of care.
What else can I expect as a patient?
Big Stone Therapies’ professional staff takes pride in our Patients First approach to rehabilitation. Exactly what does that mean?
and treatment plan.
How should I dress for therapy?
You should wear loose fitting clothing so the area that will be evaluated and treated can be exposed. For example, if you have a knee problem, it is best to wear shorts. For a shoulder problem, a sleeveless top is a good choice, and for low back pain, wear a loose fitting shirt and athletic pants. We do have shorts and gowns available for patients use as needed.
How long will each treatment last?
Expect your first visit to last 60 to 75 minutes. Follow up treatment sessions are typically 45 to 60 minutes.
How many visits will I need?
This is highly variable among each individual, depending upon your diagnosis, the severity of your impairments, your past medical history, etc. During the first visit, your therapist will discuss with you how many treatment visits they anticipate you will need.
Who pays for my therapy?
In most cases, health insurance will cover your treatment. Prior to your first visit, we will verify your insurance coverage and we encourage you to do the same as well. At your first visit, you will be given the verification of benefits form that includes information such as the co-pay amount, deductible, number of approved visits, etc.
Will the therapist communicate with my health care provider?
Big Stone Therapies understands the importance of communication among members of your health care team (you, your therapist, your doctor, etc). As a result following your initial evaluation, your therapist will send your doctor a written detailed report with the findings of your evaluation, the assessment of your injury, a detailed description of the treatment plan and a complete list of the goals to be achieved in therapy.
Before each appointment you have with your doctor, your therapist will complete a written progress report to ensure your doctor has the most up to date information concerning your care. Additionally, your therapist will not hesitate to contact your doctor by phone if any specific questions or concerns arise. At the end of your treatment, a final report will be sent with information regarding your status at the time of discharge from therapy and recommendations made by your therapist.
What type of follow-up is offered?
At Big Stone Therapies, your therapist will give you a home exercise program that is appropriate for you to continue upon discharge of therapy. You will be given detailed instructions of how to complete your at home program, allowing you to continue the progress you made in therapy and avoid further injury.
We are your partners in recovery, so even after your discharge, if you ever have any questions or concerns, call us and we will be more than happy to assist you in manner possible.