Physical therapy is considered to be a conservative method of medical treatment based on the most up-to-date understanding of human anatomy, physiology, medical conditions, surgeries and movement patterns during activities (including sports).
Physical therapists focus primarily, but not solely, on relieving pain, promoting healing, restoring function and movement, and facilitation and adaptation associated with injury. Therapy also focuses on ergonomics or body mechanic training, fitness and wellness and, especially education. This area of physical therapy includes posture, stabilization and building strength in the weakened area, and to prevent additional injury.
This is achieved through the use of hands-on techniques, functional exercises and activities, and therapeutic modalities (e.g. ice, heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation), Physical therapy also educates people on ergonomic (body mechanics) fitness and wellness issues.
Physical Therapy is covered by insurance plans. In the state of Connecticut, most insurance plans will allow you to see a physical therapist without a provider's referral. Some insurance plans, like Medicare, require that you a provider's referral.
WHAT CAN A PT PROGRAM DO FOR ME?
A Physical Therapist is a specialist specifically educated and skilled in proper rehabilitation. Physical therapists are continually educated as to management for different dysfunctions, differentiation of one dysfunction/injury from another and work closely with the referring physician in the development of a rehabilitation program specifically designed for each individual patient.
The other important aspect to remember with physical therapy is that each individual is different. We all have different types of bodies, different patterns of movement, different alignments and different habits. A physical therapist, along with trained staff, monitor each individual and attempt to correct improper habits, alignments and movement patterns.
Most important with therapy is education. Your therapist specializes in this and many times will be the one to educate you on the specifics of your problem and what the course of action will be to correct it and hopefully prevent it from reoccurring. PT focuses on education, correction, and prevention.
Preparing for Your Visit with a Physical Therapist
Make a list of any questions that you have, to make the best use of your time with your physical therapist and write down any symptoms you've been having and for how long. If you have more than one symptom, begin with the one that is the most bothersome to you. For example, is your pain or symptom:
Better or worse with certain activities or movements or with certain positions, such as sitting or standing?
More noticeable at certain times of day?
Relieved or made worse by resting?
Write down key information about your medical history, even if it seems unrelated to the condition for which you are seeing the physical therapist. For example:
Make a note of any important personal information, including any recent stressful events, injuries, incidents, or environmental factors that you believe might have contributed to your condition.
Make a list of any medical conditions of your parents or siblings.
Consider taking a family member or trusted friend along to help you remember details from your own health history and to take notes about what is discussed during your visit. Make sure you can see and hear as well as possible. If you wear glasses, take them with you. If you use a hearing aid, make certain that it is working well, and wear it. Tell your physical therapist and clinic staff if you have a hard time seeing or hearing. If available, bring any lab, diagnostic, or medical reports from other health care professionals that may be related to your medical history or who have treated you for your current condition.
Bring a list of the names of your physician and other health care professionals that you would like your physical therapist to contact regarding your evaluation and your progress.
What to Expect During Your First Visit:
Come to your first appointment 10-15 minutes early to fill out some registration paperwork. These forms can also be downloaded and from FVPT's website under the "Schedule An Appointment" section if you prefer to fill out this paperwork ahead of time. Wear comfortable exercise clothing or bring a change of exercise clothes with you. You want to avoid tight or formal clothes as your therapist will likely have you engage in exercises during your first visit. The clothing should either expose the area (i.e. wear shorts if you are being seen for a knee problem) or be loose fitting to easily expose the area that is being treated. You may be asked to put on a gown depending on where your pain or problem is located.
Bring your insurance card and provider's referral for physical therapy if you have one so we can begin the authorization process with your health plan to make sure you are covered for our services. Plan to spend at least one hour at your first appointment.
Your physical therapist will begin by asking you lots of questions about your health and about the specific condition for which you are seeing the physical therapist. Detailed information about you and your condition will help the physical therapist determine whether you are likely to benefit from physical therapy and which treatments are most likely to help you.
Your physical therapist will perform physical examination. Depending on your symptoms and condition, the physical therapist might evaluate your strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, posture, etc. Your physical therapist might use his or her hands to examine or "palpate" the affected area or to perform a detailed examination of the mobility of your joints, muscles, and other tissues.
The second half of your first appointment will be your first treatment session where the physical therapist will begin to guide you through your rehabilitative program.
What will my physical therapist do at my first appointment?
You first appointment is referred to as an evaluation. Your physical therapist will check a lot of aspects of overall and musculoskeletal health including:
How you walk (your "gait")
How you get up from a lying position or get in and out of a chair ("functional activities")
How you use your body for certain activities, such as bending and lifting ("body mechanics")
Your physical therapist might ask you specific questions about your home or work environment, your health habits and activity level, and your leisure and recreational interests so that the therapist can help you become as active and independent as possible.
Your physical therapist will work with you to determine your goals for physical therapy and will begin to develop a plan for your treatment. In most cases, the physical therapist will make a diagnosis and begin treatment almost immediately.
One of the main goals of treatment is almost always to improve or maintain your ability to do your daily tasks and activities. To reach this goal, the physical therapist may need to focus on pain, swelling, weakness, or limited motion. Your physical therapist will constantly assess your response to each treatment and will make adjustments as needed.
In most cases, an important aspect of your physical therapy treatment will be education. Your physical therapist might teach you special exercises to do at home. You might learn new and different ways to perform your activities at work and home. These new techniques can help minimize pain, lessen strain, avoid reinjury, and speed your recovery.
Your physical therapist will evaluate your need for special equipment, such as special footwear, splints, or crutches. If the evaluation indicates that you are at risk for falling, your physical therapist might recommend simple equipment to help make your home a safer place for you. The therapist will know what equipment you need and can either get it for you or tell you where you can find it. If you do need special equipment, your physical therapist can show you how to use it properly.
Your physical therapist will communicate the important information from your examination to your physician and to other health care professionals at your request.
Your physical therapist will continually recheck your progress and work with you to plan for your discharge from physical therapy when you are ready. Make sure you talk with your physical therapist about what you should do after discharge if you have questions, or if your symptoms or condition worsen.
What should I bring with me to my first appointment?
When coming into your first appointment at one of our rehabilitation clinics, please remember to bring your ID, insurance cards/information, a list of the medications you are currently taking and your script if your doctor has not faxed it already. Please show up at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time. If you’d like you can view, print, and fill out patient forms at home so you don’t have to fill them out in the office.
Additionally, if you have any recent reports from your doctor involving details from a surgery, MRI or X-Ray results you may bring those, although it is not necessary. If you are currently using a splint, sling, crutches, or any other aid, you should bring those to your appointment as well.
Privacy and Financial Considerations
Applicable deductibles and copayments will be requested prior to or upon completion of each appointment. It is important to pay the proper amounts at the time of service. This will help you to better manage your health care costs and avoid a large bill at the end of care.
If the frequency of visits needs to be adjusted for financial reasons, discuss this directly with your physical therapist. In partnership with your therapist, you can explore alternatives and develop a workable plan including group rehabilitation classes.
If you change insurance plans or lose insurance coverage for any reason, be sure to inform your therapist as well as the clinic’s front office staff.
f you do not wish to utilize your insurance, you may choose our private pay plan. We accept cash, checks, Discover, VISA and MasterCard. At this time, we cannot accept American Express.
Keeping Your Appointments
Arrive for treatment sessions at the scheduled time or a few minutes early so you are prepared. Late arrival may affect not only your one-on-one time with the therapist, but that of other patients in the clinic.
Actively participate in the discussion to determine visit frequency and work in partnership with the physical therapist to achieve your treatment goals.
Please attend your scheduled appointments. Failure to show for an appointment and not calling to cancel the visit may result in a fee and is disruptive to the physical therapist’s schedule. If an emergency prevents you from attending, try to provide adequate notice. It is important to review FVPT's Cancellation and No Show Policy which will be provided to you at your first visit prior to the start of treatment.
If you plan to discontinue therapy or change the frequency of treatment because of personal or financial considerations, discuss this with your physical therapist.
My referral specifies another physical therapy clinic. Can I still come to FVPT?
Absolutely! The decision of where you receive treatment is yours. The physical therapist or clinic that your physician writes on your referral is a suggestion. If you prefer to attend physicla therapy at FVPT, you should let your doctor or insurance company know this.
You always have the right to ask for a specific provider. If we are not "in network" with your specific insurance company, many have out of network options that still provide coverage. Call us at (860) 673-0223, if you have questions about your referral or insurance coverage for physical therapy at FVPT.
How does physical therapy compare to massage therapy or chiropractic care?
In reference to massage therapy, a PT can and will often administer massage-like techniques called soft tissue mobilization, but massage therapists cannot administer PT. The PT you receive therefore may include soft tissue mobilization but will include much more education, exercise and the use of other modalities.
Chiropractic care differs quite a bit in the sense that a Chiropractor relies heavily on performing joint manipulations. Chiropractors typically will see a patient for much longer than a physical therapist for continued joint manipulations or "adjustments" whereas a physical therapist will rehab the injury or painful area and then instruct the patient in a Home Exercise Program for continued care. A physical therapist with specialized training can effectively perform many of the physical adjustments that a Chiropractor utilizes.
I just had orthopedic surgery; will physical therapy help me heal faster?
Of Course! Physical Therapy can help reduce swelling, increase active and passive range of motion and increase strength and endurance after orthopedic surgery. Most importantly, attending physical therapy increases the functioning of the involved muscles, bones and other soft tissues much more quickly and effectively than just "staying at home" after surgery.
Do I need a referral to come to physical therapy?
In the state of Connecticut, a referral from a physician is not required to receive a physical therapy evaluation or treatment. Some exceptions do occur. Medicare always requires a referral to obtain physical therapy services. This referral may come from a physician, a physician assistant, a nurse practitioner, a dentist or a podiatrist. In addition, some insurance companies require a referral to provide insurance coverage. You should call your insurance company to determine whether or not you are required to have a referral for coverage.
As a patient, what can I do to assure the best possible outcome?
First, recognize that you play the most important role in your own recovery. We encourage patients to act as full partners with their therapist in the treatment process. Comply with your in-clinic therapy schedule; follow through on your home exercise programs; and communicate often and completely with your therapist regarding any problems or concerns you may experience. Physical therapy is an active process that requires your full commitment and interaction with your therapist. Ask questions and be receptive to suggestions regarding exercise, lifestyle changes and adjustments or modifications of your daily activities.