What Should You Expect from Your First Physiotherapy Session?

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So you’ve booked your first appointment with a physical therapist, only know you don’t know what to expect when you arrive at your appointment.

Whether you’re seeking out a physical therapist to help identify a potential injury or whether you’ve been referred to one by a doctor, not knowing what to expect when you meet for your consultation can cause unwanted anxieties or stress.

The following is what to expect when you arrive to your local Vancouver physiotherapist for your first consultation and how to prepare yourself for it.

Arrive Prepared

During your initial appointment with your physiotherapist, it is important you come prepared with a detailed medical history, whether it be injuries, prior surgeries, family history, or medications you may be on. You will likely be asked many detailed questions about your reasons for your appointment, including your end-game goals and how and when your condition affects you.

Your physiotherapist won’t be the only one who asks the questions during your consultation, either, as your time together will be just as much about fielding any queries you may have. To help ensure you don’t miss any pressing questions, consider writing any you may have down before the appointment. These questions may be about your planned treatments, your reasons for visiting, and your physiotherapist’s experience and credentials.

Expect Physical Assessment

Besides asking you questions about your physical health, a physiotherapist will likely have you perform a physical assessment during your initial consultation to help better observe an assortment of things, including:

  • Physical strength
  • Joint and ligament stability
  • Reflexes
  • Flexibility
  • Range of Motion
  • Nerve testing
  • Which areas swell or become tender

Knowing you will be performing physical movements such as stretching, movements, and light exercises, it is good to wear clothing you can be relaxed and comfortable in.

Ideally, your clothing will allow you to have an easier range of motion without feeling restricted, which can be rolled up easily if needed. Your clothing should allow the “problem” area to be easily accessible to your physical therapist when they need to assess it to better help them assign physiotherapy treatments.


Ideally, by the end of your initial appointment and assessment, your physical therapist will be able to help give you their professional diagnosis and be able to assign and educate you on the corrective steps that are going to be taken to help lead you on the road to recovery. Treatment plans will often be a combination of multiple actions, including any of the following:

  • Movements and exercises that the physiotherapist themselves will perform during your scheduled appointments
  • Specific home exercises and stretches to perform on your own time in between appointments
  • Acupuncture
  • Electrophysical agents such as Therapeutic Ultrasound, Traction, TENS, or Low-Level Taser
  • Manual therapy like massage, joint or spine manipulation
  • An alternating combination of both heat and cold applications to help the muscles

In summary, your first appointment with your physical therapist will be a combination of going over your medical history and treatment goals, performing physical assessments for easier analysis, and learning more about the planned treatments that you will be assigned until your next appointment.

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