Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is Pediatric Physical Therapy?
Pediatric physcial therapist work with children and their families to assist each child in reaching their maximum potential to function independently and to promote active participation in home, school and community environments. They implement a wide variety of supports for children from infancy through adolescence in collaboration with their families and other medical, educational, developmental and rehabilitation specialist.
What happens during my first visit?
During your first visit you can expect the following:
- Arrive at your appointment with your paperwork completed (you can download it from our website - see the paperwork or forms link)
- You will provide us with your prescription for physical therapy.
- We will copy your insurance card.
- You will be seen for the initial evaluation by the therapist.
- The therapist will discuss the following:
- Your medical history.
- Your current problems/complaints.
- Pain intensity, what aggravates and eases the problem.
- How this is impacting your daily activities or your functional limitations.
- Your goals with physical therapy.
- Medications, tests, and procedures related to your health.
- The therapist will then perform the objective evaluation which may include some of the following:
- Palpation - touching around the area of the pain/problem. This is done to check for the presence of tenderness, swelling, soft tissue integrity, tissue temperature, inflammation, etc.
- Range of Motion (ROM) - the therapist will move the joint(s) to check for the quality of movement and any restrictions.
- Muscle Testing - the therapist is checking for strength and the quality of the muscle contraction. Pain and weakness may be noted. Often the muscle strength is graded. This is also part of a neurological screening.
- Neurological Screening - the therapist may check to see how the nerves are communicating with the muscles, sensing touch, pain, vibration, or temperature. Reflexes may be assessed as well.
- Special Tests - the therapist may perform special tests to confirm/rule out the presence of additional problems.
- Posture Assessment - the positions of joints relative to ideal and each other may be assessed.
The therapist will then formulate a list of problems you are having, and how to treat those problems. A plan is subsequently developed with the patient's input. This includes how many times you should see the therapist per week, how many weeks you will need therapy, home programs, patient education, short-term/long-term goals, and what is expected after discharge from therapy. This plan is created from input from you, your therapist, and your doctor.
What can a physical therapy program do for me that I cannot do on my own?
Many patients think that they know how to properly exercise, manage pain, and rehabilitate themselves. Many times we hear explanations from patients for why they do not need therapy and often we hear the horror stories of what happened when they tried to manage the care themselves. A physical therapist is a health care professional, educated specifically in physical rehabilitation. PTs attend continuing education programs annually, are able to differentiate one dysfunction or injury from another, and PTs work closely with your referring physician in the development of your rehabilitation program. More importantly, with physical therapy comes patient education. Because your physician may not always have the time to explain to you exactly what your injury, dysfunction, or disability entails, your physical therapist many times will be the one to educate you on the specifics of your problem, the course of action required to correct it, and how to prevent it from reoccurring. Therefore, physical therapy focuses on education, correction and prevention.
Do I need a prescription or referral for physical therapy?
In most cases, in order to receive insurance coverage for physical therapy, a prescription is required. A prescription is different from a referral. A "prescription" is a physician order for physical therapy, and it includes: the patient's name, a diagnosis, a treatment plan (or the words "evaluate and treat"), the physician's signature, and the date. Prescriptions may come from any licensed medical physician (M.D. or D.O.), podiatrist (for foot related diagnoses), chiropractor (for spinal related diagnoses) or dentist (for TMJ or oral fracture diagnoses). A "referral" is a document required by some insurance companies if you have out-of-network benefits. A referral is usually not required.
If you need help in obtaining a prescription or referral, please contact our office. In most cases your doctor will give you a prescription during your regular office visit