Frequently Asked Questions for New Patients

We know physical therapy can be scary and we are here to help you understand what to expect and how to prepare for your visit

Do I need a physician’s referral?

In Pennsylvania, Direct Access allows most patients to be seen by a physical therapist without a physician’s referral for up to 30 days.  This allows patients quick access to care, which often translates to a quicker recovery.  Medicare will allow an initial evaluation without a referral, however will require either a referral or signed plan of care (which your PT will send to your physician after the evaluation) following evaluation in order to continue treatment. Our staff works closely with your doctor to ensure an optimal recovery.

What should I expect on my first visit?

Please arrive 15 minutes early for your first visit in order to ensure appropriate paperwork is completed.  Bring your identification, insurance card and referral, if applicable.  Wear comfortable clothing in which you can move freely.  Please allocate one 1 hour for each visit during your plan of care.

During your first visit, the physical therapist will perform a thorough evaluation which will includes getting an understanding of your medical history and performing a pain and motion assessment in order to gain a thorough understanding of your condition. Your physical therapist will use the information obtained from your evaluation to formulate a clinical judgment as to your prognosis and appropriate treatment intervention. A rehabilitation program will be developed based upon the problems identified and the individual goals of each patient.

What types of treatment will I receive?

The treatment you receive will depend on what the physical therapist finds in the evaluation. Most physical therapy plans of care will include therapeutic exercise and functional training in sport, work, or home related tasks. Other interventions might include manual therapy techniques, biomechanical and postural reeducation, and ergonomic analysis. Patient education is a key to recovery.  At HARTZ PT, we always allow plenty of time for questions. Your therapist will provide you will extensive education regarding your injury and ways to prevent a reoccurrence as well as a home exercise program which will expediate the healing process.

Our intervention programs include coordination among all people involved in your care (other health care professionals, family, friends, caregivers, and others), communication to ensure a good exchange of information, thorough documentation of the care and services provided, and instruction to you and others involved in your care

How long will my visit last?

The initial evaluation will last approximately 60 minutes depending upon the complexity of the case. Follow-up appointments typically vary in length and are dependent upon the type of injury and the level of rehabilitation that is required. Usually, the average follow-up appointment will last anywhere from 45-75 minutes and occasionally longer, if necessary. There is no specific time limit for physical therapy.

How is my progress measured?

During your comprehensive initial evaluation, your physical therapist will record several objective measures which establish a baseline. Reevaluations occur periodically throughout your plan of care to record progress, especially if you have a return visit with your physician.  All reevaluations will include all tests and measures that were performed at your initial evaluation. This new data can be directly compared to your baseline measurements to demonstrate both subjective and objective improvements. These comparisons help your physical therapist determine the need for continuation of your therapy and how to progress your plan of care in the most effective and efficient manner to meet your functional goals.

Will my insurance cover physical therapy?

The large majority of insurance companies do cover physical therapy, however the percentage of the cost that they cover varies greatly. Our administrative staff would be happy to call your insurance company to check your benefits which can give you a better idea of what to expect.

What should I wear to my appointment?

In general, be sure to bring loose-fitting comfortable attire (T-shirts, shorts, athletic shoes, etc.) to allow for evaluation and movement. Patients with hip, knee, ankle, or foot injury should wear shorts or loose-fitting pants to allow proper exposure. Female patients with shoulder dysfunction should wear a tank top or a loose fitting short sleeved shirt to minimize the necessity for a gown while allowing adequate exposure of the shoulder.

What should I bring with me?

For your first visit you will need your insurance card, and any paperwork that was sent to you that needed to be filled out. If you have any operative reports, MRI or X-ray results, please bring those as well. Additionally, if you are utilizing any type of brace, splint, or crutches, those should come with you.

Who chooses which physical therapist I go to?

It is always the patient’s choice where to go to physical therapy. Your physician may give you recommendations or a listing of physical therapists in your area. Sometimes your insurance company will guide you with regard to who is “in network” for your insurance plan. Ultimately, however, the decision as to where you receive your care is up to you. Just as you do research before making large purchases or choosing a doctor, we encourage you to research your physical therapy options – ask friends and family and check out online reviews. If we are not in network for your insurance company, most plans have out-of-network benefits that will allow you your choice in physical therapy. Sometimes the out-of-pocket cost for in-network vs out-of-network is very similar!