What to expect at your 1st appointment

You will be asked lots of questions about your specific condition that you would like treated. Detailed information will be helpful to help your physical therapist determine if you can benefit from physical therapy services.

A thorough examination will take place depending on your symptoms. The exam may include an evaluation of your strength, flexibility, ROM, balance, gait pattern, coordination, mobility and posture.

You may need to provide information about your work or home environment as well as overall health and activity level so your therapist can help you return to prior level of function.

You and your physical therapist will work together to make goals for physical therapy and develop of plan of care for your treatment.

In many cases, a home exercise program will be given to suit your specific needs to compliment your therapy in the clinic. These exercises will help address weakness or flexibility issues, regain posture control, reduce pain and prevent re-injury.

The physical therapist will also address equipment that may be needed for your condition and/or train you with equipment you may have.

Your physical therapist will also communicate directly with your referring physician or other healthcare professional at your request as well as keep them updated on your progress and plans for discharge.

Your physical therapist is there for you and to educate you, so don’t hesitate to ask questions and be engaged in your road to recovery!

What to bring to your 1st appointment

Short of bringing your entire house with you, there are a few things that are needed at your first appointment, as well as a few things that are generally helpful.

Some of these items may include:

  • Doctor’s referral for Physical Therapy, if not utilizing a Direct Access Referral.
  • Any reports of images or tests completed by an outside referring physician (such as MRI, X-ray, CT, injections, etc.)
  • Photo ID, military ID, or driver’s license o Insurance card(s) o Assistive device (such as walker, cane, sling, brace, etc.), if applicable.
  • List of current medications
  • New patient information packet (if not seen by an OSMC physician)

Coming straight from work or another event? Bring a change of clothes! Something comfortable with easy access to the injured body part is best.

Pre-op Instructions

Preparing for surgery can be an intimidating experience, which is why we schedule a pre-operative appointment with you to educate you on expectations and make sure you are safely prepared for the upcoming surgery.

At this appointment, you will be educated on the following:

  • Expectations of rehab following your surgery
  • How to safely maneuver around your home (ie., stairs if needed, bathroom needs, transfers, etc.
  • Techniques for dressing and hygiene
  • Use of equipment you may be receiving following the surgery. If gait training with an assistive device is needed, we will also teach you how to fit and use the assistive device and make sure you are safe using it in the community and around your home.
  • Precautions and restrictions of surgery will be reviewed and any pertinent exercises will be given at that time to complete after your surgery. It is very important to ice and elevate following surgery to minimize swelling and inflammation postoperatively.

It will also be important for you to begin the exercises you were given and follow the instructions on your handout.

Post-op Instructions

You can expect to be seen within the first week after your surgery by a Physical Therapist for your postoperative appointment. This appointment includes an evaluation to include:

  • Dressing change if needed
  • Baseline objective measurements and observation
  • Review of gait training if needed
  • Review and update of home exercise program
  • Addressing pain management and answer questions/concerns
  • Discussion of patient and PT goals, review of realistic expectations from PT

Assistive Device general fitting instructions

If you need to use crutches, here are some helpful tips to adjust your crutches to fit:

  • Stand tall with shoes on and put the crutches under your arms.
  • Relax arms and let them hang down over the crutches
  • There should be a 2 inch space (2-3 finger widths) between your armpit and top of the crutch
  • With your hands hanging relaxed, your wrists should be at the level of your handgrips.

Never lean on your crutches as you can irritate the nerves under your arm and cause numbness and tingling in your arm. Be sure to take the weight through your hands.

If you will be using a walker, here are some helpful tips to adjust the walker:

  • Check with your medical provider for recommendations on the correct type of walker that is safe for you to use.
  • Make sure the walker legs and folding mechanism are locked and hand grips are tight and do not move around. Also ensure that rubber tips or glide tips are intact.
  • Stand comfortably, with assistance if needed, with arms hanging loosely at your sides.
  • With hands relaxed, your wrists should be at the level of your handgrips. You should not have to bend over or reach up to use your walker. Stand up as straight as possible when using the walker
  • Adjust the height of the walker by adjusting all four legs equally so your walker is level. If using wheels or glides on the front of the walker, make sure the back is level with the front.

Helpful Links