Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
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Your First Appointment!
What to Bring
- Photo Identification
- Current Insurance Card or Case Claim Number and contact of your Case Manager
- Prescription from your doctor (if required by insurance)
- Payment method (cash, check, credit, debit)
- List of current medications with dosages and condition treated.
- List of past surgeries with approximate dates. Please explain any complicated orthopedic conditions or past injuries.
- X-ray or MRI reports if relevant to current condition.
- Comfortable, loose fitting clothes and shoes appropriate for walking.
- List of activities you want to be able to do once physical therapy is complete.
What To Wear
- We want you to be comfortable and we want to respect your modesty. Understand that for your initial evaluation and follow up treatments, you may need to expose the body part that is affected (knee, shoulder, back, etc).
- Loose fitting apparel with draw string or elastic waist band and a t-shirt or tank top are ideal. We have treatment gowns and athletic shorts available. If your treatment involves the upper or lower back you may be asked to remove your sports bra and donn a treatment gown.
- We reserve private treatment rooms for patients with more complicated conditions and for preserving modesty while providing effective treatments to areas such as hip joint, groin, low back, chest, etc. It is routine for patients who are rehabilitating their knee, ankle, foot, elbow, hand, wrist, and shoulder to be treated in common gym areas.
What To Expect
- You will be greeted by Belinda in our reception area. She will make sure you have dotted all the "i's" and crossed all of the "t's" before you are examined by the physical therapist.
- Jennifer, Terry or Angela will orient you to the clinic and get your vital signs (height, weight and blood pressure). You will then be escorted to a private examination room where you will be able to discuss your condition or injury with Terri or Ellen, our licensed and experienced physical therapists.
- Your PT will review your medical and surgical history, medications you are taking, and discuss any conditions you have that may affect your treatment plan (pacemaker, seizure disorder, pregnancy, cancer, anxiety disorder).
- Your PT will want to know what it is you are having difficulty with such as driving your car, standing still, sitting at your desk at work, playing with your kids, carrying groceries, putting on your shirt, shaving your legs, mowing the lawn or training for a 1/2 marathon. Our main goal is to help you reach your goals!
- There is a lot to cover at your first session! It may take between 45-90 minutes for the initial visit, but usually follow up visits last between 30-60 minutes.
Treatments & Terminology
* Asterisked procedures require a high skill level.
- Pain Neuroscience Education* - Our PT's are Central Arkansas' first Certified Therapeutic Pain Specialists.
- Chronic spinal pain (CSP) is a severely disabling disorder, including nontraumatic chronic low back and neck pain, failed back surgery, and chronic whiplash-associated disorders. Much of the current therapy is focused on input mechanisms (treating peripheral elements such as muscles and joints) and output mechanisms (addressing motor control), while there is less attention to processing (central) mechanisms. In addition to the compelling evidence for impaired motor control of spinal muscles in patients with CSP, there is increasing evidence that central mechanisms (ie, hyper- excitability of the central nervous system and brain abnormalities) play a role in CSP. Hence, treatments for CSP should address not only peripheral dysfunctions but also the brain. Therefore, a modern neuroscience approach, comprising therapeutic pain neuroscience education followed by cognition-targeted motor control training, is proposed. This perspective article explains why and how such an approach to CSP can be applied in physical therapist practice.
- Joint Mobilization* – The application of movement and force to a joint for the purpose of increasing motion and range. Can be used to reduce pain. Sometimes discomfort may accompany the procedure.
- Soft-Tissue Mobilization* – The application of movement and force to muscles, ligaments, nerves or other soft-tissue for the purpose of promoting healing and normalization of tissue quality. Can be used to reduce pain, improve circulation, ease tension, and restore motion of a body region. Momentary discomfort may accompany the procedure, but usually our patients feel significant relief.
- Therapeutic Exercises* - Our bodies are built to move! If you have a movement problem that has caused you to avoid or fear movement, WE can help! The physical therapy team at Advanced Physical Therapy Center is highly trained and experienced in helping those with pain be able to move more freely again. If you are experiencing fatigue, stiffness, pain, frustration, muscle tension, weakness, joint stiffness, de-conditioning from illness, arthritis, obesity, recent surgery, fear of falling, balance problems, movement disorders, and/or chronic pain, let us help restore your body’s natural inclination to MOVE!
- Just as your medical doctor knows how to dose your medication, WE know how to dose movement to meet your specific needs while promoting better function and avoiding flare ups of your symptoms along the way.
- Modalities – Ice pack, Hot pack, electrical stimulation, TENS, ultrasound, phonophoresis, iontophoresis, AlphaStim.
How much does it cost?
Our office is open to discussing prices and costs with you. We understand that the last thing you want is an unexpected bill later.
At this time, physical therapy services are billed to insurance companies based on the level of skill provided and length of time services are provided; the longer you spend with a licensed physical therapist that is providing highly skilled services, the higher the charges may be. Generally, a typical physical therapy session costs between $85-125. Depending on your insurance plan, you could owe 20% - 40% of this out of pocket.
If you intend to use your insurance, call the number on your card and verify your deductible and coinsurance before your first visit.
Be prepared to pay the amount that YOUR plan specifies.
If cost is a concern, you can request a financial hardship application by contacting Belinda at 501 328-5878. Upon your completion of the application, if you qualify, we can then legally waive your copay, co-ins or deductible.
If you are concerned about a high deductible or you have limited PT visits per year, you may may want to take advantage of our cash payment options.
- Initial Physical Therapy Evaluation (per episode): $125
- Highly Skilled appointments: $75 per session.
- 6 PT sessions, to be completed within 6 months: $390
- Modalities Only Session (Heat, Ice, Electrical Stimulation, Alpha Stim): $20
- Independent Exercise/Equipment Use for Established Patients (time of appointment must be pre-determined and only available during business hours): $50/month.
Who will see me?
You will be evaluated by one of our licensed and highly trained physical therapists, Ellen or Terri. Your physical therapist will provide an individualized plan of care to address your specific needs. Each member of our team will become involved in your plan of care, with a physical therapist overseeing your progress and modifying your treatment plan as necessary.
Expect to get to know Belinda at the front desk, Ellen or Terri B. as your lead physical therapist, Jennifer our PT Aide who manages the gym area, and Terry H. or Angela as your Physical Therapist Assistants who provide hands on care, administer modalities, and provide movement re-education.
Who pays for the treatment?
How does the billing process work?
Billing for physical therapy services is similar to what happens at your doctor's office. When you are seen for treatment, the following occurs:
- The physical therapist bills your insurance company, Workers' Comp, or charges you based on Common Procedure Terminology (CPT) codes.
- Those codes are transferred to a billing form that is either mailed or electronically communicated to the payer.
- The payer processes this information and makes payments according to an agreed upon fee schedule.
- An Explanation of Benefits (EOB) is generated and sent to the patient and the physical therapy clinic with a check for payment and a balance due by the patient.
- The patient is expected to make the payment on the balance if any.
It is important to understand that there are many small steps (beyond the outline provided above) within the process. Exceptions are common to the above example as well. At any time along the way, information may be missing, miscommunicated, or misunderstood. This can delay the payment process. While it is common for the payment process to be completed in 60 days or less, it is not uncommon for the physical therapy clinic to receive payment as long as six months after the treatment date.
Frequently Asked Questions About Physical Therapy
Why is physical therapy a good choice?
More than half of all Americans are suffering from pain. Whether it is a recent episode or chronic, an ABC News/Stanford study revealed that pain in America is a serious problem. However, many do not even know that physical therapists are well equipped to not only treat pain but also its source.
Physical therapists are experts at treating movement and neuro-musculoskeletal disorders. Pain often accompanies a movement disorder, and physical therapists can help correct the disorder and relieve the pain.
Why are people referred to physical therapy?
What types 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 or manifest themselves in 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).
Isotonics- muscle(s) contracting through the ROM with resistance. This is usually prescribed for strengthening.
Soft Tissue Mobilization - therapeutic massage of body tissue performed with the hands. Soft tissue mobilization may be used for muscle relaxation, to decrease swelling, to decrease scar tissue adhesions, and for pain relief.
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.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) - a system of manually resisted exercises performed in diagonal patterns that mimic functional movements. PNF was initially used in developmentally and neurologically impaired patients but now is used in almost every aspect of neuromuscular retraining from athletes in sports facilities to the very weak in hospitals and nursing homes.
Posture Training - 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.
Progressive Resistive Exercises (PRE) - exercises that gradually increase in resistance (weights) and in repetitions. PRE is usually prescribed for reeducation of muscles and strengthening. Weights, rubber bands, and body weight can be used as resistance.
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.
Cryotherapy or Cold Therapy - used to cause vasoconstriction (the blood vessels constrict or decrease their diameter) to reduce the amount of fluid that leaks out of the capillaries into the tissue spaces (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.
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) - the application of electrical stimulation to aid in improving strength (e.g., the quadriceps muscle after knee surgery or injury). NMES is also used to decrease pain and swelling and to relieve muscle spasm.
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.
Iontophoresis - medications are propelled through the skin by an electrical charge. This modality works on the physical concept that like charges repel each other, therefore, a positively charged medication will be repelled through the skin to the underlying tissues by the positively charged pad of an iontophoresis machine. Iontophoresis is usually prescribed for injuries such as shoulder or elbow bursitis.
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 I get a massage at physical therapy?
Massage may be part of your treatment. Rehabilitation specialists are trained in a variety of techniques that may help with your recovery. Deep tissue techniques may be part of the rehabilitative process. Massage is used for three reasons typically - to facilitate venous return from a swollen area, to relax a tight muscle, or to relieve pain. Contrary to common thought, massage does not increase circulation.
Can my therapist provide me with a diagnosis?
In most states, physical therapists cannot make a medical diagnosis. This is something that your medical doctor will provide for you.
Physical therapists are important members of your medical team. At this point in time, physicians are typically the health care providers that will provide you with a medical diagnosis.
How many visits will I 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.
How long will each treatment last?
Treatment sessions typically last 30 to 60 minutes per visit.
Is physical therapy painful?
For many patients, one of the primary objectives is pain relief. This is frequently accomplished with hands-on techniques, modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and/or heat or cold therapy. Movement often provides pain relief as well. Your physical therapist will provide you with the appropriate exercises not only for pain relief but to recover range of motion, strength, and endurance.
In some cases, physical therapy techniques can be painful. For example, recovering knee range of motion after total knee replacement or shoulder range of motion after shoulder surgery may be painful. Your physical therapist will utilize a variety of techniques to help maximize your treatment goals. It is important that you communicate the intensity, frequency, and duration of pain to your therapist. Without this information, it is difficult for the therapist to adjust your treatment plan.
What happens if my problem or pain returns?
Flare ups are not uncommon. If you have a flare up (exacerbation), give us a call. We may suggest you come back to see us, return to your doctor, or simply modify your daily activities or exercise routine.
What will I have to do after physical therapy?
Some patients will need to continue with home exercises. Some may choose to continue with a gym exercise program. Others will complete their rehabilitation and return to normal daily activities. It is important that you communicate your goals to your therapist, so he/she can develop a custom program for you.