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How to Prepare for your First Physical Therapy Session

If you’ve never been to physical therapy before, the unknowns of your upcoming appointment can be intimidating and stressful.

To put your mind at ease, here are some things to keep in mind that will make your visit a success.

How to prepare for your first physical therapy session

What to bring

Here’s a quick list of the necessary documents and items you should bring with you on the day of your first appointment:

  • Prior to your appointment, you can print and fill out your patient registration form and bring the completed copy with you to lessen the amount of paperwork you’ll have to fill out at the office.
  • If your visit is prescribed by a doctor, bring your prescription for therapy. If you don’t have a prescription, don’t worry! Thanks to direct access, you do not need a physician’s referral to go to physical therapy.
  • Identification card, insurance card(s) or case number
  • A blank check, debit or credit card for your co-pay
  • List of medications (prescription and over-the-counter) and supplements you’re currently taking
  • List of healthcare professionals and physicians that your physical therapist can contact regarding your evaluation, plan, and progress
  • X-ray or MRI results if applicable

What to wear

You can expect to be moving around quite a bit during your first appointment. Here are a few clothing suggestions to consider for certain injuries:

  • Upper body – Tank tops and loose-fitting t-shirts make it easier for our physical therapists to access the injured area whether it’s a shoulder or lower back.
  • Knee – Shorts or loose-fitting pants that can be pulled up over the knee work best.

A general rule of thumb of what to wear to your appointments is to dress as if you were going to the gym for a workout. You want to be able to move freely without any restrictions from your clothing.

What to expect during your first examination

Your first physical therapy session will likely last about an hour. During your appointment, you’ll work through an evaluation with your physical therapist that includes a patient interview and a physical exam.

The interview will include basic questions such as:

  • When did your pain and symptoms begin?
  • How did they start?
  • What types of activities aggravate your symptoms?

The physical exam will focus on evaluating your balance, coordination, flexibility, mobility, and strength through functional activities and body mechanics.

From there, your physical therapist will work with you to create a plan that’s catered to YOU and YOUR needs to help you feel like yourself again.

We don’t want you to just go through the motions. That’s why it’s our goal at Phoenix Physical Therapy to work with you and explain why you’re doing a particular exercise.

We believe that your active involvement in your recovery is an integral factor to your overall success!

Find a Phoenix Physical Therapy location near you and schedule an appointment.