For people who have never been to a physiotherapist the first visit can be a little intimidating! Here you are, perhaps in pain and weakened by your injury, and someone you have never met will be asking you detailed questions.
A physiotherapist (as well as most other health care providers) will ask some probing questions to get a better sense of your problem and how they can go about helping to get you better and back to living the way you’d like. Physio’s encourage an open dialogue and your active participation in your own rehabilitation. We don’t want to do all the talking!
You will probably have questions too, below are some question ideas that you may find useful to ask:
- What’s wrong with me/Why do I hurt?
An important question. Everyone wants to know what the problem is and what can be done about it. The way the physio responds to this question can help instil confidence in his /her knowledge and help allay any fears arising from internet searches or an overly technical explanation from your consultant perhaps. In addition to asking you about your problem, the physio will perform various tests and measures to make their assessment of your condition, including a plan and goals to get you better.
- How did this happen and how can I fix it?
The first question found out the “what,” this question can help with the “why.” Knowing the root cause of a problem can help prevent recurrence and promote a healthier lifestyle as well. Perhaps you have poor posture at work, and it has caused your headaches. Or maybe using poor lifting techniques during a recent move threw out your back. Regardless if you have an acute or chronic injury, understanding how it happened is important to prevent it from ever happening again.
- What do you expect from me?
There is only so much a physio can do on their own in a clinic. This is a good question to ask because it will signal to the physio that you are an active participant in your own health care, and motivated to get better. Some common responses may be showing up on time and properly dressed to exercise, notifying the therapist or front desk of any missed sessions in advance, performing your home exercise program as recommended, and applying ice or heat at the recommended frequency.
- How long will it take to get me better?
This isn’t always an easy question to answer for the physio who is just getting a sense of your problem, but they have seen many other patients with similar issues to you, so they can draw on those experiences. They should give you an estimated time frame, and a recommended frequency of sessions every week. The idea is to work towards achieving the goals that have been set for you. It takes time for you to recover from injury, and everyone recovers at a different pace, so be patient with yourself.
- Will you be my physiotherapist? Who exactly will be treating me every time I come in?
By visiting a smaller physiotherapist practice like Birkdale Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic you have the peace of mind that all your treatment will be carried out by David Wordsworth. Visiting larger practices with multiple physiotherapists could mean seeing a different physio each time or being passed on to an aide to do an exercise routine, this could lead to miscommunication, confusion and a less successful outcome of your treatment.
- What will my physiotherapy sessions entail?
The first session will include a comprehensive assessment of your problem. You will be asked about your medical history, the events that led to your problem, what aggravates and eases your symptoms, how your condition impacts your everyday life, and what your goals are for your physiotherapy treatment. The physiotherapist will perform a physical examination. From all of this a treatment plan is developed and goals are set. These goals may be different from what you told the physio your goals were but should be related to how you want to be when the therapy concludes.
After that initial session, you will then start your regular treatment sessions. These will involve the being asked how you are feeling, and if there are any changes in your condition. Treatments should include instruction in exercises you can do at home, as well as manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, balance training, pain modalities, and any other intervention appropriate for your injury. You should leave each session feeling as though you have worked hard! If your symptoms are worse, please let your physio know. We never want to make you worse, but it is important for us to know what helps you as well as what doesn’t!
I hope these questions are helpful. Seeing a physiotherapist should be a fulfilling, rewarding experience for you. Be prepared to attend all of your sessions, work hard and communicate often with them. You will find you will have a trusted health advocate, a champion for your health and well -being, a compassionate listening ear, and a very knowledgeable, skilled health care provider. Good luck!