Physical Therapy: Your Questions, Answered!

Published: Wednesday, February 9, 2022
Lisel Whitaker, PT, DPT, Cert DN
Clinic Lead, The Rehabilitation Institute of Dahlonega

Physical therapists are neuromuscular specialists, or in other words — movement specialists. They help people preserve, improve, and restore mobility. Physical therapists don’t work alone – they work with you, the patient, to meet your goals. You are an integral part of your rehabilitation process.

Your first session with your physical therapist is called an initial evaluation. Often, the treatment may start at the initial session.

How Should I Prepare For My Initial Evaluation?

  1. Make a list of questions you have for your physical therapist. We are a resource! Writing these items down will help you not forget or miss information you want to share with us.
  2. Write down your symptoms, for example:
    • What makes your symptoms worse?
    • What makes your symptoms better?
    • Is there a time of day that is worse?
  3. Have a medication list prepared.
  4. Write down your medical history and surgical history.
  5. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Your therapist will want to see the area they are evaluating. They will have you move around a lot to assess your mobility.

What Can I Expect From A Great Physical Therapist?

Your physical therapist will ask you questions regarding:

  • Your overall health, as well as specific questions concerning the condition you are seeing them for.
  • Your day-to-day activities include hobbies, recreational activities, home/work environment, and healthy habits.

Your physical therapist will then perform a detailed and thorough examination. Dependent on your condition and symptoms, they may evaluate the following:

  • Strength
  • Range of motion
  • Balance/Coordination
  • Flexibility
  • Often, they will assess your vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation)

Your physical therapist will also evaluate how you move. They will assess how you walk (your gait), how you get up and down from sitting/lying in bed, and your body mechanics with bending and lifting (if these are applicable to your condition).

They may also assess for any equipment needs (footwear, splints, crutches, canes, or walkers) and address special needs to decrease your risk of falling.

Will I Receive A Treatment Plan Tailored to Me?

The examination/evaluation provides your physical therapist with the information to design a treatment plan specific to you. They will include you in the treatment plan and establish goals that are meaningful to you.

Your physical therapist may prescribe specific home exercises at your initial visit. They may also help teach you ways to modify the way you move or perform activities.

What is the goal of Physical Therapy and what should I do if my symptoms come back?

The physical therapist will communicate with your doctor or other healthcare providers at your request. Your progress will be assessed by the physical therapist throughout your plan of care by modifying or making changes to treatment based on your response to the therapies provided.

The goal of physical therapy is to improve your quality of life through improving symptoms and managing pain, ultimately allowing you to become more active and independent and resume the things you enjoy.

After discharge, you will have finished a finalized home program. If your symptoms return or worsen, please contact your physician.

The Rehabilitation Institute of Northeast Georgia Medical Center offers a variety of outpatient rehabilitation services for physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Call 770-219-8200 or visit for more information or contact one of our locations to make an appointment.