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What to expect during your first appointment

Many people have different and varying expectations of physiotherapy, particularly during your first appointment or initial consultation. This first appointment is one of the most important for both patient and practitioner, as it is the start of building rapport and trust between both individuals, particularly in the health practitioner or physiotherapist overseeing your care and health.

In the same way not all coffee from varying cafes is the same (even if you order the same type!), not all physiotherapists practice in the same way and demeanour. They are all skilled and qualified to help you with your health concerns and injuries, but they will all go about it in their own individualistic way.

Some physiotherapists will spend a minimal amount of time doing assessment and diagnosis of your injury or health concern during your first appointment, focussing mainly on treatment. This would mean that part of their assessment would carry over to subsequent appointments. Other physiotherapists will spend a majority of the first appointment performing the assessment and diagnostic tests, leaving most of the treatment to be completed during subsequent appointments. I for one am an ambassador for the latter, as it means any treatment completed is targeted at the correct diagnosis straight away. Inaccurate assessments or assessments that are not comprehensive and complete leave room for error when treating clients.

This balance between assessment and treatment during the initial consultation, can often be a point of difference between what clients expect during an initial physiotherapy appointment and what a physio provides them. This is something that physiotherapists need to educate their clients on, in order to build confidence in their treating practitioner’s assessment and treatment skills. It is also important to chat to your physiotherapist about what your expectations are during your first appointment and whether this would be the best strategy in achieving your goals and health outcomes.

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