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What To Expect From Your PT Evaluation

What Gets You To PT

After developing a gaming injury, choosing the right medical professional to develop a plan of care is key to both recovering and to avoiding future injury.

So why would you choose a PT? Well, every medical profession has its specialties, and physical therapists are specialists in movement. Chiropractic care and massage therapy can be helpful in managing pain, but without strengthening, stretching, and lifestyle changes, that pain will just come back. Physical therapy incorporates all of those things–manipulations and mobilizations, massage, exercise as medicine, and ergonomic/lifestyle changes.

Depending on where you’re located, going to a physical therapist may require a referral from your primary care physician or a general practitioner. In the US, some states allow you to see a physical therapist without a doctor’s referral. You can look up your state’s laws for more information. Take a look at the quick reference below to get an idea if that’s an option for you.

How A PT Evaluation Works

The first and most important part of a physical therapy evaluation is a thorough history. Your physical therapist will ask you about lots of things. They’ll include questions like what makes your pain worse or better, when you first noticed your injury, and what kinds of things you’ve tried so far. As they start to get a better idea of what your injury is likely to be, the questions will get more specific.

By the time your physical therapist is done with the history portion, they should have a enough of an idea of what your injury is that the physical assessment acts as a confirmation. Your physical therapist will assess things like muscular strength and endurance, range of motion, and joint mobility. They may also do some tests that address specific concerns, like picking out which of several small and similar muscles are at the root of a problem.

After the history and physical assessment, your physical therapist should have two things for you:

  1. Diagnosis (Source of the pain & Contributing factors)
  2. Plan for recovery

That plan should address your specific goals and lay out steps and a timeline for getting you there. The diagnosis should be be presented in that makes sense to you, and you should ask as many questions as you need to to understand. Usually this diagnosis involves helping you understand exactly what is causing the pain (nerve, muscle, tendon, etc.) and the factors that led to this tissue becoming irritated (posture, ergonomics, endurance, mobility, etc.). If these are not clear to you when you leave the first visit, then you ABSOLUTELY NEED TO ASK.

Plan to Succeed

As you continue working with your physical therapist, they should reassess you at regular intervals, update your plan, and begin to transition you to self-management as you reach the end of your injury recovery with them. One of the most important things you can do during your physical therapy is to consistently perform your home exercise program. The individual exercises–their volume, intensity, resistance, and type–are prescribed to address the source of your specific injury. Physical therapy is not about your therapist “fixing” you. It requires you to be actively involved in your recovery.

By the time you finish physical therapy, you should feel comfortable that you understood what you did and why. After you finish working with your physical therapist, you should also feel confident that you’re capable of managing and preventing this injury from coming back. 


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