Physiotherapy: Your First Visit


Your first physiotherapy appointment at The Health Network in London, Ontario, begins with a comprehensive medical history, including information about your lifestyle, your occupation and hobbies, and your level of physical activity. You'll also be asked to describe your symptoms and what movements cause pain or other symptoms. If you don't have a doctor's referral, the physiotherapist will ask you whether you had an accident, illness or other possible cause for your symptoms.

Once the history is complete, the physiotherapist will evaluate how you move during simple exercises or stretching motions. Your range of motion and symptoms will be assessed through observation and by palpating your joints, bones and muscles as you perform the motions. If the physiotherapist determines you need to see a doctor prior to therapy, you'll be referred for additional care and assessment before your physiotherapy sessions can begin.

Once your condition is assessed and the cause has been identified, the physiotherapist will develop a course of treatment that's custom-tailored to your specific needs as well as your goals. Physiotherapy treatment may include an array of techniques, including gentle stretching and exercise, manipulation of joints and soft tissues, relaxation therapy, massage, hot and cold therapy, ultrasound or electrotherapy. Home exercises to improve posture, flexibility or strength will almost certainly be a part of your recommended course of care and can help you progress much more quickly through your physiotherapy treatment. Techniques may be customized to help you perform your job or other specific tasks without pain. The therapist will discuss the treatments he or she proposes and explain how your plan of care will proceed over time. There will also be plenty of opportunity for you to ask questions about your condition or your care.

Your first visit will be longer than most – about an hour in most cases – to ensure the therapist has plenty of time to evaluate your condition and also to give you time to ask questions so you understand your therapy.