Our guest author for this post is one of our favorite patients and medical fitness members, WENDY PUNG! She offers her own experiences and advice for anyone who may benefit from physical therapy and medical fitness to improve their movement, strength, functional mobility, and to decrease or eliminate pain. Thanks Wendy!
PT – IT’S NOT SO SCARY
By Wendy Pung
So you’ve seen your doctor for that nagging pain or you’ve just had surgery and you’ve been given a prescription for physical therapy (PT). This is your first experience with PT and you have no idea what it is, what to expect, and probably most important of all—am I going to hurt even MORE? Just to let you know, the person who is writing this piece to try to allay your fears about PT is not a physical therapist or any other person working in the medical profession. If OrthoSport Hawaii were an airline, I would be called a “frequent flyer” as I have been sent to PT for nagging pains and post-surgery rehab too many times to count! And these many treatments have nothing to do with anything that the Physical Therapists have done or not done; I just have a lot of physical problems. What is PT anyway?
To put it simply, physical therapy is a medical treatment to help decrease your pain and stiffness and improve your motion, strength, and overall functional mobility. The therapists do this using a variety of techniques such as exercises, pool therapy, ice, soft tissue and joint mobilization, to name a few.
You may need a prescription from an MD for PT, it depends on your insurance. You can call OrthoSport Hawaii to find out if you’re not sure. In any case, before arriving at your first appointment, you should find out: what to wear, whether your medical insurance requires a co-payment for each appointment, what documents you need to bring with you (e.g. a list of medications and hospitalizations, insurance and ID cards, etc.) and the clinic’s cancellation or no-show policy.
When you arrive at your first appointment you will be given a set of forms to fill out and sign. These are no different than the forms that your doctor would give you at a first appointment. The most important form would be the one that asks you to describe the problem that brought you to the clinic to be treated by the therapist. Providing details of your pain, limitations, and the goals you would wish to achieve after PT is completed is crucial at this point so don’t be afraid to lay it all out.
You will then start your appointment with the physical therapist. He or she will start the evaluation by asking questions and assessing your overall condition, by taking measurements and testing your strength, range of motion, flexibility, and balance among other parameters. Remember that if you are having any concerns during this procedure, speak up! I have been treated by MANY therapists and none (so far) has bitten, and all have been very understanding. They are always more than helpful, answering my questions with impressive knowledge of the complexities of the human body and how it works.
Your physical therapist will then devise a plan that is just for you, to get you back to moving and feeling better than when you first arrived, using the techniques mentioned above. If you are given exercises to do in the clinic and “homework,” be sure to do them as directed so that you can achieve the best outcome from the therapy. But if anything that is prescribed gives you more pain or any other new symptoms, be sure to tell the therapist. He or she can then modify your treatment—PT can be hard work sometimes but it shouldn’t make you feel worse so talk to him or her!
Besides the channel of communication between you and your therapist, there is also one between the therapist and your doctor. Your doctor will be sent reports on your progress with PT and if additional treatment is required to get you to your goal, they will coordinate that with your therapist so they’ve got you covered! All you have to concentrate on is going to your appointments, doing what is being asked of you at the clinic and at home, and you will receive the best outcome from PT! Good luck!