Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT HAPPENS DURING MY FIRST VISIT?
During your first visit you can expect the following:
Arrive at your appointment with your paperwork completed (you can download it from our website – see the paperwork or forms link) or if getting therapy at the home, have the paperwork ready for your therapist.
You will provide us with your referral for physical therapy if you have one. If you don’t have a referral, let us know when you schedule your first visit with us (note – a referral is not always needed).
We will copy your insurance card.
You will be seen for the initial evaluation by the therapist.
The therapist will discuss the following:
1. Your medical history.
2. Your current problems/complaints.
3. Pain intensity, what aggravates and eases the problem.
4. How this is impacting your daily activities or your functional limitations.
5. Your goals with physical therapy.
6. Medications, tests, and procedures related to your health.
The therapist will then perform the objective evaluation which may include some of the following:
1. 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.
2. Range of Motion (ROM) – the therapist will move the joint(s) to check for the quality of movement and any restrictions.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Special Tests – the therapist may perform special tests to confirm/rule out the presence of additional problems.
6. 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.
HOW LONG WILL EACH TREATMENT LAST?
Treatment sessions typically last 45 to 60 minutes per visit.
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 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 therapists are well equipped to not only treat pain but also its source.
Therapists are experts at treating movement and neuro-musculoskeletal disorders. Pain often accompanies a movement disorder, and therapists can help correct the disorder and relieve the pain.
WHAT DO THERAPIST DO?
You have probably heard of the therapy profession. Maybe you have had a conversation with a friend about how therapy helped get rid of his or her back pain, or you might know someone who needed therapy after an injury. You might even have been treated by a therapist yourself. But have you ever wondered about therapists – who they are and what they do? Many people are familiar with 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 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.
Because therapists are experts in movement and function, they do not confine their talents to treating people who are ill. A large part of a therapist’s program is directed at preventing injury, loss of movement, and even surgery. 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. With the boom in the golf and fitness industries, a number of therapists are engaged in consulting with recreational golfers and fitness clubs to develop workouts that are safe and effective, especially for people who already know that they have a problem with their joints or their backs.
The cornerstones of therapy treatment are therapeutic exercise and functional training. In addition to “hands-on” care, 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, therapists may also “mobilize” a joint (that is, perform certain types of movements at the end of your range of motion) or massage a muscle to promote proper movement and function. Therapists also use methods such as ultrasound (which uses high frequency waves to produce heat), hot packs, and ice. Although other kinds of practitioners will offer some of these treatments as “therapy,” it’s important for you to know that therapy can only be provided by qualified therapists or by therapist assistants, who must complete a 2-year education program and who work only under the direction and supervision of therapists.
Most forms of therapy treatment are covered by your insurance, but the coverage will vary with each plan. Most states do not legally require patients to see their physicians before seeing a therapist. Most of the time all you have to do is ask your doctor if therapy is right for you.
Ref: APTA https://www.apta.org/
IN OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY WE WORK ON?
Our Occupational therapist are highly skilled in restoring functional independence. Our Occupational therapist strive to improve our patient’s activities of daily living such as bathing, transfers, eating, grooming along with cognitive therapies to enhance mental stimulation.
WHY ARE PEOPLE REFERRED TO THERAPY?
You and others may be referred to therapy because of a movement dysfunction associated with pain. Your difficulty with moving part(s) of your body (like bending at the low back or difficulty sleeping on your shoulder, etc.) very likely results in limitations with your daily activities (e.g., difficulty getting out of a chair, an inability to play sports, or trouble with walking, etc.). Therapists treat these movement dysfunctions and their associated pains and restore your body’s ability to move in a normal manner.
WHO PAYS FOR THE TREATMENT?
In most cases, health insurance will cover your treatment. Click on our insurance link under the resources tab 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.
WHO WILL SEE ME?
You will be evaluated by one of our licensed and highly trained therapists and he/she will also treat you during subsequent visits. Unlike some clinics, where you see someone different each visit, we feel it is very important to develop a one-on-one relationship with you to maintain continuity of care. Since only one physical therapist knows your problems best, he/she is the one that will be working closely with you to speed your recovery.
WHAT TYPES OF TREATMENTS WILL I RECEIVE?
There are dozens of different types of treatment interventions. Here is a list of treatment interventions:
Active Range of Motion (AROM) – the patient lifts or moves a body part through range of motion against gravity. AROM is usually one of the first modalities prescribed for arthritis.
Active Assistive Range of Motion (AAROM) – therapist-assisted active range of motion. This is usually prescribed for gentle stretching or strengthening for a very weak body part.
Gait or Walking Training – the analysis of walking problems by visually examining the interaction of the low back and the joints of the thighs, legs, and feet during the various stages of walking, including initial contact, loading response, mid stance, terminal stance, pre swing, mid swing, and terminal swing. Many back, thigh, leg, ankle, and foot problems may be caused by or manifest themselves in subtle gait abnormalities.
Isometrics – muscle contraction without joint movement. This is usually prescribed for strengthening without stressing or damaging the joint (e.g., arthritis, or exercises to be performed in a cast, or right after surgery if recommended by the therapist/doctor).
Isotonics – muscle(s) contracting through the ROM with resistance. This is usually prescribed for strengthening.
Soft Tissue Mobilization – therapeutic massage of body tissue performed with the hands. Soft tissue mobilization may be used for muscle relaxation, to decrease swelling, to decrease scar tissue adhesions, and for pain relief.
Mobilization – hands-on therapeutic procedures intended to increase soft tissue or joint mobility. Mobilization is usually prescribed to increase mobility, delaying progressive stiffness, and to relieve pain. There are many types of mobilization techniques including Maitland, Kaltenborn, Isometric Mobilizations, etc.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) – a system of manually resisted exercises performed in diagonal patterns that mimic functional movements. PNF was initially used in developmentally and neurologically impaired patients but now is used in almost every aspect of neuromuscular retraining from athletes in sports facilities to the very weak in hospitals and nursing homes.
Posture Training – instruction in the correct bio-mechanical alignment of the body to reduce undue strain on muscles, joints, ligaments, discs, and other soft tissues. There is an ideal posture, but most people do not have ideal posture. Therapists educate patients about the importance of improving posture with daily activities. Stretching and strengthening exercises may be prescribed to facilitate postural improvement and to prevent further disability and future recurrences of problems.
Progressive Resistive Exercises (PRE) – exercises that gradually increase in resistance (weights) and in repetitions. PRE is usually prescribed for reeducation of muscles and strengthening. Weights, rubber bands, and body weight can be used as resistance.
Passive Range of Motion (PROM) – the patient or therapist moves the body part through a range of motion without the use of the muscles that “actively” move the joint(s).
Stretching/Flexibility Exercise – exercise designed to lengthen muscle(s) or soft tissue. Stretching exercises are usually prescribed to improve the flexibility of muscles that have tightened due to disuse or in compensation to pain, spasm or immobilization.
Cold Therapy – used to cause vasoconstriction (the blood vessels constrict or decrease their diameter) to reduce the amount of fluid that leaks out of the capillaries into the tissue spaces (swelling) in response to injury of tissue. Ice or cold is used most frequently in acute injuries, but also an effective pain reliever for even the most chronic pain.
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) – the application of electrical stimulation to aid in improving strength (e.g., the quadriceps muscle after knee surgery or injury). NMES is also used to decrease pain and swelling and to relieve muscle spasm.
Heat – heat is recommended to decrease chronic pain, relax muscles, and for pain relief. It should not be used with an acute or “new” injury.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) – a relatively low voltage applied over painful areas through small self-adhesive electrodes. The electrical stimulation “disguises” or “overrides” the sensation of pain. It is a small, portable unit, used in intervals, to control pain and reduce dependence on drugs. It is usually prescribed for relief of pain.
WILL I GET A MASSAGE AT PHYSICAL THERAPY?
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 OR PAIN 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.
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:
1. The physical therapist bills your insurance company, Workers’ Comp, or charges you based on Common Procedure Terminology (CPT) codes.
2. Those codes are transferred to a billing form that is either mailed or electronically communicated to the payer.
3. The payer processes this information and makes payments according to an agreed upon fee schedule.
4. 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.
5. 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 WILL I HAVE TO DO AFTER 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.
IS MY THERAPIST LICENSED?
Physical therapists (PTs), physical therapist assistants (PTAs), Occupational therapist (OTs), Occupational therapist assistants (OTAs) and Speech-language pathologist (SLPs) are licensed by their respective states.