Your First Physical Therapy Session: What To Expect

So you’ve finally made your first appointment at a physical therapy clinic. Even though your friends or doctor recommended physical therapy, no one has told you what to expect.

What should you wear? How long will it take? What will you do?

All these questions and more will be answered right here.

What Will Happen At My First Session?

Now that you have your first appointment scheduled with a physical therapist, it’s important to keep in mind that the first session will be an evaluation. An evaluation will take 60-90 minutes, starting with a discussion about injuries, medical history, and areas of pain. A licensed physical therapist will ask you questions such as:

  • When did the pain start or how did you get the injury?
  • Does the pain travel or stay in the same area?
  • Does the pain get worse or get better when doing certain things?
  • What is your goal?

After discussing these aspects and getting to know your unique situation, the physical therapist will then establish an individualized plan of care for you. This plan will help you reach your goals of being pain-free, rehabilitate an injury, get stronger, or increase fitness.

You may even start on the plan right away so that the physical therapist can teach you the exercises to do at home. They will watch you carefully to ensure you’re doing them right, and make sure that the exercises are not increasing the pain.

What Should I Wear?

For all sessions, you should wear workout clothing such as t-shirts, sweatpants, yoga pants, etc. Be prepared to work! You may not be working a sweat, but you will need to wear clothing that allows you to move freely. Furthermore, it’s important that the physical therapist can see you move to ensure you’re doing the exercises correctly. Wearing bulky, stiff, and non-stretchy clothing will hinder your sessions. Furthermore, whether you realize it or not, wearing the wrong clothing can inevitably postpone your recovery or the achievement of your goal.

How Long Will Treatment Take?

Each session will take 60-90 minutes. However, the entire treatment process may consist of two visits a week for many weeks or even months. The treatment lasts as long as it takes to get you to your goals of recovering from an injury or being pain-free. Working individually with you, a physical therapist will make sure you stay on task to reaching your goals in a timely matter. They will constantly communicate with you and work with you during the entire process to track your progress and evaluate how you’re doing. During re-evaluation, the therapist may suggest other supplemental methods to help in recovery or shorten your therapy time as you progress and recover.

Be Patient

It’s important to keep in mind that recovering from an injury and becoming pain-free takes time. There are no miracle treatments. Even as you progress through therapy and have less pain, it’s still important to continue on the recommendation of your therapist to strengthen the injured area. Just as you wouldn’t stop a prescription medication for an illness because you feel better, you also shouldn’t stop therapy until it’s completed.