FAQ's

How do I get started with Physical Therapy?

In Idaho, you do not need to have a physician referral to see a physical therapist. However, if you will be paying for therapy via your insurance or Medicare, you will most likely need to obtain a referral from your physician, podiatrist, dentist or chiropractor in order to have physical therapy benefits covered.

Do you call my insurance to verify coverage for physical therapy visits?

Yes. We will call to verify your insurance benefits for physical therapy. We do, however, recommend that you check with your insurance carrier to see if you have a limit to the number of PT visits allowed each year.

We are providers for most medical insurance plans, and our staff is knowledgeable in this area. Click Here to learn about some of the insurances we are contracted with.

How much will I have to pay for each therapy visit?

You will be responsible for your co-pay or co-insurance, depending on your insurance plan. Your therapist can give you an estimate of anticipated charges once you are evaluated.

Can I come to Orthopedic Physical Therapy Institute with a prescription from a doctor who is not a member of Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine?

By all means!! We are happy to see patients from outside referral sources and will be just as thorough in our communication with your physician from another practice as we are with doctors from OSSM.

What should I expect for my first visit?

During your first visit you can expect the following:

  • Arrive at your appointment with your paperwork completed (you can download it from our website – see the paperwork or forms link).
  • You will provide us with your prescription for physical therapy.
  • We will copy your insurance card.
  • You will be seen for the initial evaluation by the therapist.

The therapist will discuss the following:

  • Your medical history.
  • Your current problems/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 then perform the objective evaluation which may include some of the following:

  • Palpation – touching around the area of the pain/problem. This is done to check for the presence of tenderness, swelling, soft tissue integrity, tissue temperature, inflammation, etc.
  • Range of Motion (ROM) – the therapist will move the joint(s) 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/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 should I wear to my first physical therapy visit?

Please wear comfortable clothing and shoes. If you are coming in for a shoulder or neck injury, please bring or wear a tank top or loose fitting t-shirt so that your therapist can assess the effected body part. If you are coming in for knee pain, please wear or bring shorts or pants that are stretchy enough to pull up above the knees.

How long will each therapy visit last?

Typically, your first visit will require about an hour. Follow-up visits will be 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how much therapy you require each visit.

What kinds of treatments will I receive?

There are dozens of different types of treatment interventions. Here is a list of treatment interventions:

Active Range of Motion (AROM) – the patient lifts or moves a body part through range of motion against gravity. AROM is usually one of the first modalities prescribed for arthritis.

Active Assistive Range of Motion (AAROM) – therapist-assisted active range of motion. This is usually prescribed for gentle stretching or strengthening for a very weak body part.

Stationary Bicycle – with or without resistance. This is usually prescribed for improving the strength and/or range of motion of the back or lower extremities as well as cardiovascular endurance.

Gait or Walking Training – the analysis of walking problems by visually examining the interaction of the low back and the joints of the thighs, legs, and feet during the various stages of walking, including initial contact, loading response, mid stance, terminal stance, pre swing, mid swing, and terminal swing. Many back, thigh, leg, ankle, and foot problems may be caused by subtle gait abnormalities.

Isometrics – muscle contraction without joint movement. This is usually prescribed for strengthening without stressing or damaging the joint (e.g., arthritis, or exercises to be performed in a cast, or right after surgery if recommended by the therapist/doctor).

Mobilization – hands-on therapeutic procedures intended to increase soft tissue or joint mobility. Mobilization is usually prescribed to increase mobility, delaying progressive stiffness, and to relieve pain. There are many types of mobilization techniques including Maitland, Kaltenborn, Isometric Mobilizations, etc.

Postural Restoration – instruction in the correct biomechanical alignment of the body to reduce undue strain on muscles, joints, ligaments, discs, and other soft tissues. There is an ideal posture, but most people do not have ideal posture. Therapists educate patients about the importance of improving posture with daily activities. Stretching and strengthening exercises may be prescribed to facilitate postural improvement and to prevent further disability and future recurrences of problems.

Passive Range of Motion (PROM) – the patient or therapist moves the body part through a range of motion without the use of the muscles that “actively” move the joint(s).

Stretching/Flexibility Exercise – exercise designed to lengthen muscle(s) or soft tissue. Stretching exercises are usually prescribed to improve the flexibility of muscles that have tightened due to disuse or in compensation to pain, spasm or immobilization.

Game Ready – Ice Therapy – used to cause vasoconstriction (the blood vessels constrict or decrease their diameter) to reduce the amount of swelling in response to injury of tissue. Ice or cold is used most frequently in acute injuries, but also an effective pain reliever for even the most chronic pain.

Neck Traction – a gentle longitudinal/axial pull on the neck, either manual or mechanical, intermittent or continuous for relief of neck pain, to decrease muscle spasm and facilitate unloading of the spine.

Heat – heat is recommended to decrease chronic pain, relax muscles, and for pain relief. It should not be used with an acute or “new” injury.

Pelvic Traction – the longitudinal/axial pull on the lumbar spine, either manual or mechanical, intermittent or continuous. Pelvic traction may be helpful for the relief of low back pain and muscle spasm.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) – a relatively low voltage applied over painful areas through small self-adhesive electrodes. The electrical stimulation “disguises” or “overrides” the sensation of pain. It is a small, portable unit, used in intervals, to control pain and reduce dependence on drugs. It is usually prescribed for relief of pain.

Ultrasound – ultrasound uses a high frequency sound wave emitted from the sound head when electricity is passed through a quartz crystal. The sound waves cause the vibration of water molecules deep within tissue causing a heating effect. When the sound waves are pulsed, they cause a vibration of the tissue rather than heating. The stream of sound waves helps with nutrition exchange at the cellular level and healing. Studies have shown that ultrasound is helpful for ligament healing and clinically, for carpal tunnel syndrome, and muscle spasm.

Will you contact my doctor if I need more therapy than originally prescribed?

Yes. We will take care of sending all documentation to your physician and to your insurance carrier to ensure that your therapy is not interrupted.

What is the difference between and Physical Therapist and a Physical Therapy Assistant?

Both are licensed professionals and are responsible for the direct care of a patient receiving physical therapy. A Physical Therapist has the added responsibility of providing the initial evaluation, determining the plan of care that is to be provided, and altering the plan of care as needed in response to therapy treatment.

How much physical therapy will I need?

The amount of physical therapy each patient needs depends on a number of factors including the severity of the injury, the overall health of the patient, and the patient’s ability and willingness to participate in a home exercise program to name a few. Most patients begin to see improvement in just a few visits, but may require more therapy to reach their maximum potential.


Did You Know?

We are a physical therapy and rehabilitation division of OSSM, so our rehab team members have close, ongoing communication with your doctor or surgeon.