What to expect from a Physical Therapy Evaluation

  • By Medi Center
  • 03 Nov, 2016

MediCenter Physical Therapy Gold Standard of Care on the Kenai

My doctor says I need to come to Physical Therapy. What will they do to me? All of my friends say it’ll hurt. I’m scared!

Physical Therapy (PT) is one of the most misunderstood specialties in modern medicine.  Perhaps you’ve heard the secondhand account of someone’s PT treatment. Unfortunately it may not have been a happy story.  Did you know that many people avoid PT because of fear or confusion about what will happen during their Initial Evaluation?

Why do I need PT? Quite often a Primary Care Provider (like a family doctor, DO, or a Physician’s Assistant) will recommend PT for patients who are experiencing pain, reduced function, or limited movement. These symptoms may be in any area of the body. Often these symptoms have not responded well to other interventions, so now it’s time to try something different.   Your Primary Care Provider may be trying to do some problem solving. Sometimes you may be referred to PT to determine if a specialist or a surgeon visit will be beneficial. Occasionally a patient may come to PT without a referral, depending on their health care insurance. This is called Direct Access and will be discussed in a later blog.

The referral is basically a prescription that your medical provider writes. It includes your diagnosis and specific directions for PT.

Unfortunately, there is lots of misinformation out there regarding PT. There are many varying types of Physical Therapists, as well as people who specialize in certain issues.   To optimize your experience, do your homework. If you would rather be treated by a certain gender due to religious or ethical considerations, say so. If there is a Physical Therapist that a friend strongly recommends, find them. If you would like to meet our therapist prior to treatment, please let us know. We are here to make this process more comfortable for you. We want to be your Medical Home.   This involves making your feel at ease, and taking care of you just like we would our own families.

When you arrive at a PT visit at the MediCenter, you will be greeted by our friendly Front Desk Staff. They will confirm your name and date of birth. You will receive an Intake Packet regarding your medical history and your treatment concerns. Upon completion of your Intake Packet, our Physical Therapy staff will meet you and escort you to our Physical Therapy department.

Upon entering our department, you will meet your Physical Therapist, Leon Richard. Leon is a doctor of Physical Therapy. This means he has advanced training to help you reduce your pain and improve your movement. You will sit down in a private room with him and discuss your condition, including the history of the symptoms that brought you to PT. He will ask you for your treatment goals. Often goals include reducing pain, returning to work or recreational activities, or improving tolerance of movement.

After you discuss your history and goals, Leon will perform a physical exam. This is not a typical exam that includes checking blood pressure or temperature. This is an exam to determine exactly what is causing your pain or dysfunction. Leon will observe your posture for imbalances. He will ask you to perform certain movements, in order to determine your limitations.   He will check your strength and nerve function. He will assess your balance and coordination. This process will also include finding your painful areas.

Did you say painful areas? Wait! Will this hurt?

You may discover that some regions of your body are tender during the exam. Some movements may increase your symptoms. However; other movements may actually decrease your symptoms. Take heart! Leon will not ask you to endure severe discomfort. This process is about problem solving, not increasing your suffering.

After Leon determines what structures and movements are problematic, then he will work with you to determine a Plan of Care.   What is a Plan of Care?

A Plan of Care is an action plan based on your specific concerns and issues. For instance, Helen has difficulty squatting down to pick up her grandchild, due to knee pain. The concern would be pain and decreased movement in her knee.  The action plan (or Plan of Care) may include treatments to decrease symptoms in her knee as well as exercise to help the knee move more efficiently.   While determining your Plan of Care, you and Leon will also decide how often and how long you should attend PT.

So now that you and Leon have developed your Plan of Care, what’s next? Now Leon will also help you with strategies to help you feel better at home. This may include changing how you sit, modifying your sleep position, and doing home exercises.

But I don’t like exercise!

These are not your average exercises. They are selected specifically for you based on your problem. The object is not to “working up a sweat,” but rather to use correct form. Leon and his staff guide you through individualized, targeted exercise designed to treat your painful areas. We will help you learn to perform these activities correctly, because using poor form may actually be harmful.   Our goal is for you to feel confident while doing your homework.

Finally, when your Initial Evaluation is done, we will escort you back to the Front Desk. You will be assisted with the checkout process, including making more PT appointments if necessary.   Also, if Leon determines further referrals to a specialist or a surgeon is required, he will recommend this to your Primary Care Provider. Your well-being and good health is of utmost importance to the PT department.

Now that the mystery is gone from Physical Therapy…we would truly enjoy being your bridge back to the activities that you enjoy. 

 Feeling better isn’t a puzzle, it’s attainable. 

 Come to MediCenter and establish your new Medical Home!


Visit us on the web at  http://www.kenaidoctor.com/physical-therapy

Visit us on facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/medicentermedicalgroup/  and  https://www.facebook.com/KenaidoctorPT/

Schedule a visit by calling us at 907-283-9110

Share by: