Your first visit with a physical therapist is an exciting time because you are taking the first step on your journey toward health.
During this visit, your physical therapist will gather information on your health history and current condition, evaluate you, and begin creating a plan for healing you from the inside out.
Before this visit, take steps to prepare yourself and gather important information so you and your physical therapist can make the most of this important appointment.
Gather required documents
Chances are that your PT office will need you to fill out some documents before your first visit. These documents usually include demographic information (e.g. Your name, birthdate, contact information, emergency contact information) and your medical history.
While you can usually fill out these forms on the day of your appointment, you may be able to save yourself some time by filling them out ahead of time.
You may also need to provide other important items at your first visit. These include the following:
- Form of ID
- Insurance information
- Any relevant medical imaging or diagnostic test results (e.g. X-rays, scans, or medical reports)
You can contact your PT office to find out exactly what they need you to bring to this first visit, as well as inquire about documentation that you can complete beforehand.
Creating a folder with the completed paperwork, documents, and other items can make your visit go more smoothly.
Write down your questions
You may have questions about your condition, physical therapy, and what to expect from the process. We welcome questions, and want to put your mind at ease!
Before your first visit, make a list of all the questions you have regarding physical therapy and how it can help you.
You should also think through and write down your goals for physical therapy so you can discuss them with your therapist and achieve a more customized treatment plan.
Writing these things down ensures that you cover everything you want to discuss in this initial consultation, and can give your physical therapist a good idea of what you need to confidently begin the PT process.
Write down your symptoms
During your first physical therapy visit, your PT will ask you about your current condition, symptoms, and abilities. They may want to know the following:
- Your level of pain
- Your level of mobility
- Recent injuries, accidents, or factors that may be affecting you
- What improves your symptoms
- What worsens your symptoms
Take time to think through and write down this information. If your pre-visit paperwork asks for this information, you can write it down there. If not, you can write it in a notebook or on a piece of paper and bring it with you.
Thinking about your symptoms, abilities, and pain levels ahead of time can help you to accurately report what you are experiencing to your physical therapist, and that can help them tailor your treatment to address your specific circumstances.
Think through your health history
If your pre-visit paperwork includes your health history, you can write it down there. If not, you may want to take the time to think through your health history before your first visit.
Think about and write down any information you have about the following:
- Medications you take
- Family history of illness
- Personal history of illness and injury
- Existing health conditions
- Contact information for your primary care physician and any other relevant healthcare professionals
Make sure you can see and hear
Prepare for your first PT visit by making sure that you can see and hear clearly. For example, make sure you have your glasses or contact lenses if you wear them, and make sure you have working hearing aids if you need those.
Physical therapy will require movement. It is best to dress comfortably for your appointment. Choose clothing that allows you free range of movement, and that provides your PT with access to the areas that require physical therapy.
For example, if your shoulder requires treatment, wear a shirt that is loose or open at the shoulder, or wear shorts if you need assistance with a knee injury. You can also call your PT office ahead of time to ask about the best types of clothing to wear to your appointment.
Learn about your financial obligations
Before your first appointment with a physical therapist, call your PT office to find out what their financial policy is and to find out what you can expect to pay with your insurance. In particular, make sure you understand the following:
- Your insurance coverage, including deductibles and co-pays
- Whether your payment is due at the time you receive services
- Payment plan options
- The office’s financial policy–ask any questions you need before signing!
Preparing for your first PT visit can help you feel more confident and help you communicate more successfully with your physical therapist.
Here at In Touch NYC, we are excited about the chance to provide tailored and compassionate physical therapy services to you! We will happily answer any of your questions about preparing for your first visit and walk you through the entire process of setting up and following a treatment plan that helps you to improve your health.