Who Are Physical Therapists?
According to the American Physical Therapy Association (www.APTA.org), “physical therapists (PTs) are highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility – in many cases without expensive surgery and often reducing the need for long-term use of prescription medications and their side effects. PTs examine each individual and develop a plan, using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability.”
What Happens Prior to my First Appointment?
Once a referral is received from a doctor’s office, or a patient calls us directly (No Prescription Needed), our front office will schedule your initial evaluation. AzOPT policy is to schedule each patient within 24-48 hours of receiving the referral, based on your availability. Our front office will then call your insurance company to verify benefits. If prior authorization is needed from the insurance company, our front office will work with the doctor’s office to receive all of the appropriate paperwork. When insurance benefits are verified, as a courtesy, AzOPT will call to inform you of your benefits.
What Can I Expect at my First Appointment
Upon or prior to arrival, you will complete AzOPT’s New Patient Forms. We will make a copy of your identification card and insurance card for verification purposes. You may also be asked to complete a health status and satisfaction questionnaire. During your first visit, your therapist will conduct an initial evaluation to assess your current condition. Your initial evaluation may consist of objective findings and testing followed by an appropriate treatment plan, encompassing a home-exercise program, and discussing the length and frequency of your rehabilitation.
How Long is Each Appointment?
Your initial evaluation will determine the appropriate length of each appointment based on each individual’s conditions, needs, and schedule. The average appointment is approximately 60 minutes.
What Should I Wear to my Appoinment?
Dress in clothing appropriate for your condition. For example, a person who is attending physical therapy for their knee will want to wear athletic shorts or athletic pants, not jeans.
Do You Communicate with my Doctor?
AzOPT will do our best to receive any and all information pertinent to your condition that will assist us in your rehabilitation. Many doctors have specific protocol for their surgeries, which AzOPT has or will receive. A report of your initial evaluation will be sent to your doctor, and approximately every 4 weeks or 10 appointments after, your therapist will send a progress report to your doctor. When you are discharged from physical therapy, a discharge report will also be sent to your doctor.
Will I See the Same Physical Therapist?
We encourage patients to schedule appointments with the same therapist; however, often times this is not possible due to scheduling availability. At AzOPT, we employ only licensed physical therapists, therefore any of our therapists are more than qualified to treat all conditions. With our open floor plan, we all work together to achieve your results.
Who Are the Student Physical Therapists Treating Patients at AzOPT?
AzOPT is a teaching facility that enjoys a strong relationship with many of the top local and national schools for future Doctors of Physical Therapy. Our reputation as industry leaders is attractive to future physical therapists, so occasionally, you may see student therapists assisting an AzOPT therapist. It is important to note that these students have already completed their undergraduate degrees, and are one or two years into their three year Doctorate programs. Student physical therapists work under the supervision of an AzOPT therapist, thus are allowed to evaluate, treat, and develop a plan of care for their patients. Their direct contact with our patients is based on their education, their previous clinical rotations, and the combined comfort levels of the student, our therapist, and most importantly, our patients. Patients are encouraged to communicate with their AzOPT therapist regarding their personal feedback and comfort levels.
Will Physical Therapy Be Painful?
This all depends. Not everyone will experience pain, but physical therapy can be uncomfortable and/or painful at times. Our therapists will use treatments to help minimize pain. As muscles and tissues are stretched and exercised, it is natural to experience some soreness and pain. As the therapy progresses, you will see improvements in your range of motion and strength resulting in decreased amounts of soreness and pain. When tissues that have not been worked begin to work, there is a degree of soreness associated, but sharp pain is never the goal. Listen to your body, and if you feel like something may not be right, let your therapist know. Our therapists are trained to determine which pains may be part of the therapeutic process.
How Do I Know the Difference Between Soreness and Pain?
Soreness is a tight, achy feeling felt after exercise. When muscles are worked or tissue is stretched, there may be soreness later that lingers. Pain is usually felt during the activity. If the pain disappears after the activity, we should not worry. If the pain persists, then the activity should be avoided. Pain is usually sharp in nature and causes you to stop the activity. Communication with your therapist is essential throughout the therapy process.
Will the Therapist Give Me Exercises to do at Home?
Yes, your therapist will give you some home-exercises at your initial evaluation, and continue to give you more exercises as your condition improves. You will be given printed copies of exercises and instructions for your reference.
When Will I Get Better?
Every person is different, and every condition is different. To give an arbitrary timeline would be just that, arbitrary. Physical therapy is not a magic overnight cure. We are teaching you how to prevent or manage your condition so that you will achieve long-term health benefits. Sometimes this will take time and patience. If your back has been hurting for years, we can’t expect it to be fixed after two appointments. What we can tell you is if you follow the treatment plan from your initial evaluation and stay consistent on your home-exercise program, you will begin to feel better.
What if the Pain Returns?
When a patient is discharged from AzOPT, it is our goal that each patient has returned to their optimal level of functionality. If that level begins to decrease, you can call AzOPT immediately to schedule a follow-up appointment.