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Preparing for Your First Physical Therapy Session

Sustaining an injury can be disruptive and time-consuming, and you are no doubt eager to get back to your normal routine. But once the pain subsides and healing begins to set in, your health care provider may send you to physical or occupational therapy. If you have never been to physical therapy before, you are probably wondering what it’s all about.

Purpose and Goals of Physical Therapy

Even though you may be feeling better, many physical changes take place after an injury that needs to be corrected. Physical therapy will help you to:

  • Maximize pain-free movement: When you are injured it is normal to compensate by shifting your weight and changing your everyday movement patterns. When this happens, some muscles become weakened, others become tight, and movement patterns are imbalanced. Physical therapy helps restore functional movement to protect you from further injury.
  • Decrease pain: Even if your pain has abated, it can flare up when you are tired or when you overexert yourself. Physical therapy helps reduce pain levels by restoring optimal function.
  • Avoid surgery and pharmaceuticals: Physical therapy has been shown to be as effective, and in many cases more effective, than surgical interventions and pain medications.

Bear in mind that consistency is key to benefiting from physical therapy. Attend all of your scheduled sessions, and be consistent in doing any “homework” assigned by your physical therapist.

Preparing for Your First PT Session

  • What to wear: Movement is the cornerstone of physical therapy. Dress in cool, comfortable non-restrictive clothing and athletic shoes or sneakers. Fitness wear is perfect. Dress in layers, so you can remove clothing if you become too warm. Your therapist will want to be able to see your area of injury during your session. Shorts are preferable for hip, knee and ankle problems. A T-shirt and pants with an elastic waistband are ideal for low back problems.
  • What to bring: Bring any relevant paperwork from your healthcare provider, along with your insurance card, photo ID, doctor’s orders and protocols, list of medications, and relevant medical history.  If your insurance requires a co-payment, bring that as well. You may also want to bring a bottle of water and a snack for after your session.
  • What to expect: Your first session may consist of a verbal interview and a series of assessments to evaluate your current physical limitations. If time permits, you may perform some exercises and stretches. You may receive a treatment to relax your muscles and reduce pain.

After your appointment you may feel a bit sore from using muscles that have not been used in a while. You may feel much better after therapy, or you may feel no difference at all. Physical therapy takes time and commitment. As long as you hold up your end of the bargain hole line comes out by attending all your sessions and doing your homework, you will be back to normal in no time!

The Physical and Occupational Therapy professionals at Back to Health work closely with your health care providers to restore function and mobility, and alleviate pain. We treat injuries sustained from sports, work, age, disabilities and activities of daily living. At Back to Health in Brooklyn, NYC, we work to achieve your physical therapy goals so you can get back to living without the risk of injury. Contact Physical & Occupational Therapy today, and get back to the life you love!