Petersen Physical Therapy

What to Expect from Physical/Occupational Therapy

Here are the most common questions we receive. If your question isn’t answered here, please call or contact us via the webform or give us a call. This way, we can address your concern as well as improve our own FAQ.

Some commonly asked questions about physical therapy:

Will My Insurance Pay?

Yes. 99% of the time they do. In fact, we will verify your benefits for you. We even contract with the local AHCCCS plans. When you walk in for your first visit, your benefits will be explained to you thoroughly. This service is complimentary to you, and the purpose is that there will be no mystery surrounding your benefits.

If you have a specific question about your plan please first consult our insurance list and second, give us a call if you are still wondering!

How Long Will It Take?

A typical order for physical therapy will ask for 2-3 visits per week for 4-6 weeks. Sometimes the order will specify something different. What generally happens is for the first 2-3 weeks, we recommend 3x per week. This is because it will be the most intensive portion of your treatment. After that, it is not uncommon to back off to 2x weekly.

To keep it simple, we recommend budgeting 40-60 minutes for a typical visit. The only exception to this will be your first visit, which can take about 20 minutes longer due to the physical therapy evaluation your therapist will provide. We also recommend showing up about 10-15 minutes early to your first visit. This way, you can complete the paperwork before your visit time and streamline the process.

What Does a Typical Visit Look Like?

As mentioned above, a physical therapy visit lasts about 40-60 minutes. The actual contents of the visit vary based on your diagnosis/need, but typically what happens is:

  1. You check in with the receptionist, make any future appointments necessary, and we notify you if we need any forms filled out to seek continued authorization from insurance, etc.
  2. You go into the gym. You can change clothes if you need to. If not, you will begin your session. This can start with a few minutes on a hot/cold pack, or a few minutes of electrical stimulation, which strengthens weaker muscles and promotes good blood flow to the area.
  3. You will typically perform 6-8 various exercises and stretches. These can include therapeutic band exercises, light body weight exercises, or minimal weights. The stretches will promote improved range of motion in the area and serve to decrease pain resulting from tightness.
  4. The therapist will massage any areas that are still tight or causing pain. This can take a few minutes.
  5. The therapist will make recommendations based on your progress. These can include altering the frequency of visits, making additions/alterations to your home exercise plan, or things to do before your next visit.

Is It Important To Keep My Appointments?

YES, YES, and … YES.

Why, you ask?

There’s a few things that make physical therapy work, and they are all based on the science of how the body rebuilds and heals. Trust us, the biggest killer of progress is inconsistency. Your doctor recommended 2-3x weekly for a reason.

This doesn’t mean that you will lose all progress if you miss an appointment or forget to do your Home Exercise Program for a day, but what it means is this:

If you miss an appointment or forget to do your HEP, it is important that you make that up. Most of the time, when a patient reports no progress, it turns out they struggled to commit to the process throughout their treatment. On the flipside, when our patients are consistent, they achieve positive results quickly.

What Is A Home Exercise Program? (HEP)

The Home Exercise Program (HEP) is one of the most important aspects of physical therapy. Look at it this way:

If you started anything new in life: a workout, a new job, a new hobby, etc, you would benefit immensely from doing it every day as opposed to a couple times per week. Generally, you will be provided with a specific HEP protocol by the therapist near the end of your first visit. It will usually take 10-15 minutes of your time at home to engage in a few stretches/exercises that will compliment the progress you make in the gym. Don’t worry, they generally require little to no equipment, and equipment will be provided to you if you need it (such as a thera-band).

Does It Hurt?

This is a question we get a lot. And the first thing you should know is that if we are asking you to do something that is hurting, let us know! Physical therapy should not be painful. Here’s the truth:

It is common for patients to experience some soreness after physical therapy, especially in their first few weeks. The reason for this is simple: often times you are exercising, stretching, and generally “waking up” a part of your body that has atrophied or otherwise been unused. When we recommend an exercise or stretch, we are specifically targeting the muscles, tendons/ligaments, and bone structures that are dysfunctional and causing you pain.

However, it is NOT common for someone to be so sore that they are in pain or that it affects their quality of life. If this ever happens during or after an appointment, let us know and we will back off the intensity.

What Should I Wear?

You should wear comfortable clothes that make it easy to move around. We also recommend sneakers. While this is not a ‘gym workout’, you will be exercising the affected area. The less your clothes restrict your movement and the more comfortable you are, the better. Shorts, yoga pants, or athletic/loose fitting pants and a tee shirt are all good options.

What Are Our Credentials?

Our therapists are fully licensed physical or occupational therapists. If you are wondering about the specific staff in your clinic, please visit the location page for your area and read the bios.

We also employ several physical therapist assistants (PTA’s), at our locations. These professionals are also licensed and highly qualified to assist you in your treatment.

Do You Communicate With My Doctor?

Yes, we regularly communicate with your doctor. This includes initial evaluations, monthly progress notes, and discharge plans.

  1. To ensure that the treatment you receive is consistent with what your doctor is recommending.
  2. To maintain a continuity of care between the professionals who are helping you.