Preparing for physical therapy can be a daunting task especially if it is your first time. You might be concerned about what is in store for you, whether it will hurt, or whether it will even work? If done correctly from an experienced and trained professional, physical therapy is a very collaborative form of treatment, one that is designed keep the needs of each individual in mind.
Highly skilled, physical therapists are health care professionals licensed to assist patients improve mobility, ease pain, and avoid surgery or prolonged medication in favor of physical exercise and rehabilitation.
These professionals check, assess, and treat individuals who are unable to function or move because of various health conditions.
Regardless of this being your first encounter with a physical therapist, you can do certain things to ensure a successful treatment plan.
Choosing the right physical therapist
You are the person in charge of your health and choosing the right physical therapist to treat you is in your hands. If you are not limited by choices provided by your insurance provider then make sure you select a licensed physical therapist. Ask the clinic if they participate with your insurance company.
Before the meeting
Write down any questions you want to ask beforehand to avoid wasting time with the therapist.
Make a list of any symptoms you have experienced and how long you have had them. Prepare yourself for the following questions:
- Which part hurts?
- At what time of the day?
- What things improve the condition?
- What worsens the symptoms?
- How bad is the pain?
- Do you have the pain when working or not working?
- Is the pain the consistent throughout the day?
- What is your expectation from the therapy?
Make a list of important information regarding your medical past, even when it is not related to the present condition. For instance:
- Write down the over-the–counter drugs and prescriptions, supplements or vitamins you are using, or have used.
- Write down crucial information like environmental factors that may be linked to the condition, such as any recent trauma or injury.
- Medical disorders in your family
- Referral doctors and other health practitioners.
- Take along any lab, diagnostic or medical reports that may be relevant.
- Your insurance card
It may be advised that you take along a family member or trusted friend along with you to help take notes as well remind you about any facts about your health history. Ensure that you can see and hear well. If you wear glasses don’t forget to take them with you. If you use a hearing aid, make sure it is working well and wear it. If you have any difficulty with seeing or hearing make sure you inform your physical therapist.
When you call to fix an appointment, ask about the kind of clothing you should wear when you go for your first visit. You might want to avoid tight fitting or formal clothes. Wearing loose fitting clothes that allow for easier examination is better.
On the day of the appointment make sure you arrive a few minutes earlier in the event that you are required to fill out forms or you need to catch your breath if you have been rushing from the car. If forms are available on the clinic’s website then if you wish you can download them, fill it and take it with you.
If you have a problem related to walking or running then take along your boots/trainers so that they can be examined by the therapist.
Trust your therapist
Physical therapists have skills on the motion and stability of the body from sitting down to extreme movements. They have expansive training, and some even have a doctorate in the specialty. Every patient will have unique therapeutic exercises coupled with physical techniques.
Keep in mind that individuals will go to a therapist because they are unable to function normally, and sometimes it is not pain related. The majority of individuals like to be independent and active and this can be hindered by the inability to function. This is what physical therapists are trained to reinstate.
Remember, your therapy will be based entirely on the information you provide your therapist and the progress your make. Hence, communication is the key. Listen carefully to your therapist and follow their advice for the success of your treatment.
Know your insurance
Some people may assume that the insurance coverage for physical therapy is equivalent to that of a hospital service or their doctor, but it is not the same. Before starting physical therapy, contact your insurance company to make sure you have proper coverage to undergo physical therapy. Find out what it covered and what is not, under your insurance policy.
Some of the things you need to check up with your insurance company could include but not limited to:
-Whether a doctor’s referral is required or not
-Any excess that you need to pay
- The number of sessions that are paid for
- The amount that can be claimed for each session
- Whether the money is directly reclaimed from the insurers?
- What documents need to be submitted while filing for claims?
Different therapists charge different rates. Before beginning therapy, carefully read the financial policy of the clinic. If something seems unclear to you, do not shy away from asking questions. If at your first visit you were not given the financial policy, ask for it before starting the physical therapy.
You will be requested by the clinic to give your signature on the financial agreement, make sure you understand what you're signing.
Before or after every visit, relevant co-payments and deductibles will be required. Ensure you pay the right amount each visit. This will ensure you prevent a large bill once you complete the therapy.
If there is need to adjust the number of appointments because of finances, consult with the physical therapist first. Together with the therapist, you can look for other options and come up with a plan that is suitable for you.