What to Expect During Your Initial Physiotherapy Appointment


New experiences and environments can often be stressful. Here at Pembina Valley Physiotherapy we understand this and take pride in our ability to have clients quickly feel comfortable and at ease during assessments. That being said, we also understand that knowing what to expect of a situation can relieve the nervous anticipation. Therefore we created this quick guide for what to expect during initial physiotherapy treatments at our clinics. Understanding the five main steps of a physiotherapy assessment (Check-In, History, Assessment, Education, and Treatment) will ensure you know both what to expect and how to get the most out of your physiotherapy experience.


Physiotherapy Helping Leg Pain

Check In

Once you’ve located one of our clinics via our website or online mapping (make sure you know which clinic your appointment is in as we have multiple locations), you’ll enter and be greeted by one of our administrative staff members or physiotherapists. Once you let them know you’ve arrived, you might need to fill out a paper or two if you have not visited us for physiotherapy recently. This paperwork will include your contact information as well as a signed agreement to receive physiotherapy by one of our licensed therapists. If you have eligible private insurance, we will take a copy of your card to set up your direct billing account. What insurance is eligible for direct billing? Take a look at our billing page. It is advised to have your insurance card with you when you arrive so this can be facilitated. If you have a Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) or Worker’s Compensation Benefit (WCB) claim, make sure to know your claim number so we can fill out the appropriate paperwork for you in these cases. History

When your physiotherapist is ready, they will direct you to your treatment room. Each room has a treatment table and chair for your use. We will encourage you to get settled, removing your jacket and finding a suitable seat in preparation for the assessment. The physiotherapist will start the assessment by taking the history of your current condition, whether that be one sudden event or an issue that has slowly become more impactful over time. Physiotherapists often ask about the location of the pain, the type of pain (burning, aching, shooting, etc.), what motions increase the pain, and what treatments have decreased the pain. They might also ask if you visited any alternative medical providers (like a doctor), had imaging (such as an x-ray, MRI, CT), or sought any other treatment options (like a chiropractic professional, massage therapist, acupuncturist, reflexologist, etc.). It is important to note that a doctor’s referral or previous imaging is not required for physiotherapy. We ask that you be as honest as possible with your answers. For the best results, come prepared with an idea of how you’ll answer these common questions. Assessment

After gathering your history and getting to know your lifestyle, the physiotherapist will begin to assess the specified location. This may involve you performing specific movements either on your own or against pressure as applied by the physiotherapist. An example of a range of motion assessment is seeing how far you can raise your arms above your head. An example of a strength assessment is holding your arm in front of you as the therapist pushes down on your hand to test the strength of your shoulders. They may also perform other tests such as but not limited to:

  • Manual palpation (applying pressure to different tissues)

  • Sensation tests

  • Balance tests

  • Coordination tests

  • Dizziness tests (where the therapist attempts to recreate dizzy sensations to assess involved structures)

  • Eye tracking tests (where the therapist assesses how the eyes are moving)

  • Gait analysis (where the therapist watches you walk or run)

They may use as many or as few of these assessments as they need, but in any case will thoroughly investigate what may be affecting you. They will record their findings in your file so they can compare between appointments and have an objective measure of your progress. Education

With a history and assessment complete, the physiotherapist should have a complete picture of your condition. The physiotherapist will share what they expect is causing you trouble and explain how they arrived at their conclusion. Patient education is an important part of physiotherapy, so the therapist will explain succinctly but thoroughly what the condition is, as well as what they can do to help and what you can do to help yourself. You are always encouraged to ask questions to fully understand your situation. Treatment

Once you understand the condition, the therapist will begin their treatment on the injury site. This can include a variety of different interventions (see our Physiotherapy page for descriptions). Your therapist will give you electronic or printed explanations of these exercises and supply you with exercise bands, if applicable, to give you all the tools you need to remember and perform the exercises. Make sure to ask questions at any point during this process, and if you are ever uncomfortable or unsure of the treatment you are receiving, notify the therapist so they can tailor the treatment to your individual needs.

With your first treatment finished, you will return to the front desk. It is here that you can book your next appointment time as recommended by your therapist and cover any remaining payment if necessary (see our billing page for more information). After completing the Check In, History, Assessment, Education, and Treatment stages of an initial physiotherapy appointment, you should have a firm grasp on what is ailing you, how we can help you improve this condition, and how you can help improve your condition through technique and commitment to your exercises. We look forward to seeing you at one of our clinics!