If you’re about to experience outpatient physical therapy care for the first time, it’s normal to feel scared or nervous. Valerie Long, the Program Director of Bethesda Senior Therapy Center, offers some insight into what outpatient physical therapy care is and what you should expect from it.

When Would Someone Have To Go Into Outpatient Physical Therapy Care?

“We see folks for a variety of reasons,” Valerie says. Patients who would benefit from physical therapy include those suffering from:

  • Pain
  • Weakness
  • Loss of balance
  • Falls
  • Post-operative issues
  • Orthopedic conditions
  • Wounds
  • Loss of limb function
  • General deconditioning

What’s the Process for Outpatient Care at Bethesda?

Each patient’s experience is going to be different when they go into physical therapy, but they do follow a specific set of rules, Valerie says. Before patients can start, they must have an order, or “prescription,” from their doctor confirming that they need outpatient physical therapy.

Then, they will need to make an appointment for their first visit, or evaluation, and bring in their insurance cards and order. The assigned therapist will perform a thorough assessment, which will include questions about a patient’s condition, and hands-on tests to get to the root of the issue. After the assessment, the therapist will determine what the best approach will be for the patient’s specific situation.

Don’t Let Misconceptions About Outpatient Physical Therapy Care Scare You

There are some misconceptions about physical therapy that contribute to patients feeling nervous or scared, and Valerie would like to put those fears to rest. The biggest concern patients have, she says, is that the only way they will get better is if it hurts—the “no pain, no gain” theory. She stresses that no one should feel unnecessary pain while in physical therapy.

“While we cannot promise that there will never be pain, it is certainly not anything that has to hurt unnecessarily,” Valerie says. “All of our staff have been clinicians for many years and are very well-versed in working with the older population. We temper each visit to what the patient is able to do within reason.”

Expect Individualized Care from Your Therapist

Though no two patients will have the exact same experience, Valerie points out that every person seen at the Bethesda Senior Therapy Center gets better, stronger, more flexible, or has less pain to some degree. She also mentions that their therapists must complete an outcome report on every patient they see and treat.

“This report is specific to each patient and maps out how well they did. Those reports are available to that individual during their time with us or at their last visit,” she says. “We pride ourselves on individualized care. What works for one patient may not work for another. We treat each person for their specific issues. We have a private treatment room where confidentiality is priority. Sometimes, when we start improving, we forgot how bad we felt in the beginning.”

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