A First Visit

photo of patient receiving physical therapy

When you're scheduled for an appointment at the Western Michigan University Sports Medicine Clinic, please arrive at Sindecuse Health Center 10 to 15 minutes before your appointment time to check in. You will be introduced to your physical therapist and physical therapist assistant, who will be working with you throughout the course of your treatment. Plan on one hour for your first appointment and wear comfortable clothing you can easily move around in.

During your first visit you can expect the following:

Arrive at your appointment with your paperwork completed. You can download forms here.

  • You'll provide us with your prescription for physical therapy.
  • We will make a copy of your insurance card.
  • You'll be seen for the initial evaluation by the therapist.

You and your therapist will discuss:

  • Your medical history
  • Your current problems and 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 perform an objective evaluation which may include:

Touching around the area of the pain or problem. This is done to check for the presence of tenderness, swelling, soft tissue integrity, tissue temperature, inflammation, etc.

Range of motion
The therapist will move the joints to check for the quality of movement and any restrictions.

Muscle testing
The therapist may check 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 or 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 with input from you, your therapist, and your doctor.

What do you need to bring?

Make sure you bring your physical therapy referral (provided to you by your doctor) and your payment information. If your insurance is covering the cost of physical therapy, bring your insurance card. If you are covered by workers' compensation, bring your claim number and your case manager's contact information. If you are covered by auto insurance or an attorney lien, make sure you bring this information.

How should you dress?

You should wear loose fitting clothing so you can expose the area that we will be evaluating and treating. For example, if you have a knee problem, it is best to wear shorts. For a shoulder problem, a tank top is a good choice, and for low back problems, wear a loose fitting shirt and pants, again so we can perform a thorough examination.

How long will each treatment last?

Treatment sessions typically last 30 to 60 minutes per visit.

How many visits will you need?

This is highly variable. You may need one visit or you may need months of care. It depends on your diagnosis, the severity of your impairments, your past medical history, etc. You will be re-evaluated on a monthly basis and when you see your doctor, we will provide you with a progress report with our recommendations.