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Preparing for Physical Therapy

MotsomgerMany people have questions when preparing to attend a physical therapy session. Below, I hope to answer some simple questions.

Q: What should I expect during my first session?

A: During your first session, the physical therapist will want to get to know you and perform a thorough evaluation. Expect a lot of questions about your health, your lifestyle and your living situation. Depending on your particular symptoms, your therapist may examine your posture, reflexes, balance, coordination, strength, flexibility, gait (how you walk), your skin condition and levels of sensation.

Q: How will the therapist treat my symptoms?

A: Therapists are licensed and skilled at using their hands to mobilize joints and soft tissues to improve motion and decrease pain. They may also use ultrasound, electric stimulation and other modalities, or methods, to achieve the same goals. You will learn where your symptoms are coming from and how to avoid or manage them using home exercises and correct body mechanics. Therapists can also treat wounds – a physical therapy skill many people aren’t aware of.

Q: What should I wear?

A: Wear loose clothing that allows easy access to the body part being treated. Tank tops are perfect if you have shoulder and neck issues; pants with an elastic waistband are ideal if you have low back problems; and shorts work well for any issues with your lower extremities.

Q: How long will my physical therapy session last?

A: On average, a session will last about 45 minutes, with more or less time as needed.

Q: How is my progress measured?

A: Together, you and your physical therapist will set goals for your therapy and measure your progress toward those goals at regular intervals. Depending on your diagnosis, this may include how far or how fast you can get up and walk; how much motion you have in a joint; improvements to your strength; how well you can balance; or a decrease in the size of your wound.

Q: Will I need follow-up maintenance care?

A: For some conditions, it’s a good idea to be rechecked at a later date to make sure you maintain (or improve) the goals reached in therapy. However, most insurance plans will not pay for ongoing therapy for maintenance. It is your responsibility to continue with the program your therapist gave you in order to maintain your improvements.

Q: What should I bring with me?

A: Bring any exercises you’ve been given from another facility, as well as any X-ray or MRI reports, if available.

Q: How are physical therapists assigned to patients?

A: Some therapists have special expertise in certain areas such as women’s health, vertigo, sports medicine or wound care. If the clinic has a therapist specializing in your specific condition, you can request that therapist. However, all physical therapists at EntireCare are licensed and experienced in treating a wide array of diagnoses.

Q: Will I be expected to do exercises at home?

A: The exercises your therapist teaches you are your prescription for recovery, just like medication prescribed by a physician. You are expected to take control of your recovery by following through with your assigned exercises.

Q: Will I regain full function when my physical therapy is over?

A: Regaining full function is always the hope, and whenever possible, your therapist will help you reach for this goal. Unfortunately, some injuries, surgeries or conditions prevent returning to full function, but therapists always work as hard as they can to help you achieve as much as possible.

Q: When do physical therapy sessions end?

A: Ideally, therapy ends when you have met the goals you and your therapist set together for your condition. Often, however, a patient’s insurance will dictate how many sessions are covered. Your therapist will make sure you know how to manage your condition independently before your therapy ends. FBN

EntireCare Experts

The therapists and specialists of Northern Arizona Healthcare’s EntireCare Rehab & Sports Medicine have the education and hands-on experience required to provide comprehensive, individualized treatment plans and therapies. Most physical therapists have master’s and/or doctoral degrees, as well as certifications in one or more areas of expertise.

Each specific type of therapy − occupational, physical, hand and speech − is considered a specialty, and plays an important role in the rehabilitation process. The EntireCare team functions as a cohesive unit, where all members share information and knowledge. The ultimate goal is the patient’s improvement and return to the highest possible functioning level.

Choosing EntireCare means patients also have access to a myriad of additional services, such as advanced facilities, technology and equipment.

To make an appointment at one of our Flagstaff locations, call 928-773-2125.

  • Flagstaff Medical Center: 1215 N. Beaver St. The outpatient therapy center includes a large exercise gym; private rooms for hand, wound, electrical stimulation and other treatments; an above-ground therapeutic pool; group exercise classes and more.
  • East Flagstaff: 7810 N. Hwy. 89, Suite 280 (in the Elden Ridge Business Centre next to Subway). Full-time physical therapists provide comprehensive treatment options in a state-of-the-art facility. The clinic has both private treatment rooms and a gym-like area for patients to work one-on-one with therapists.

Suzanne Motsinger, P.T., D.P.T., C.S.C.S., C.W.S., is a physical therapist with EntireCare Rehab & Sports Medicine and is located at Flagstaff Medical Center. She has both a master’s and doctoral degree in physical therapy. Suzanne has been a physical therapist since 1991. She is a certified strength and conditioning specialist as well as a certified wound specialist.


Flagstaff Medical Center is a member of Northern Arizona Healthcare, which also provides healthcare services through Verde Valley Medical Center, Northern Arizona Healthcare Medical Group − Flagstaff, Verde Valley Medical Clinic, Cancer Centers of Northern Arizona Healthcare, EntireCare Rehab & Sports Medicine, Fit Kids of Arizona, Guardian Air, Guardian Medical Transport, Heart & Vascular Center of Northern Arizona, Northern Arizona Homecare, Northern Arizona Hospice and Valley View Care.


To learn more about the programs and services offered at Northern Arizona Healthcare, visit “Like” NAH at

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