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20 Important Questions To Ask a Physical Therapist in 2023

Are you already taking physical therapy sessions or planning to start soon? With so many physical therapists and treatment options out there, it can be challenging to choose what works best for you. However, this decision will make all the difference in the quality of care, you or your loved ones will receive. That’s why it’s crucial to ask the right questions to ensure that you get the best possible treatment.

Effective communication with the PT allows the patient to understand their condition, treatment plan, and expectations throughout the recovery process. It also helps the patient to build a connection with their therapist and feel comfortable throughout treatment.

If you are considering a career in physical therapy or looking for ways to treat your body through therapy, there are a lot of questions to ask a physical therapist. For a start, you may want to contact several clinics or search for resources online to learn more about the services and programs they offer.

In this blog, we’ll share the twenty most important physical therapy questions, so that you can feel confident and informed about your treatment.

A female physiotherapist working with an older male patient in a wheelchair - physical therapist questions

Why do you need to ask your physical therapist questions?

Are you considering physical therapy for yourself or your elderly loved one? Has your physician recommended it? If you need to ask questions, a professional and personal set of terms and conditions, policies, and a team of PTs should be available on the website or clinic site. You can ask about their occupational, sports, and pain management practices, including ways to help patients return to their everyday life and schedule.

It’s important that you get the best out of every therapy session. One way to maximize therapy results is through effective communication with your physical therapist.

Asking questions is a great way to enhance your own or a loved one’s physical therapy experience, but how exactly does it help? Here are some important benefits of asking your physical therapist questions.

Patient Education

Patient education is the first step of the care plan in physical therapy. Although physical therapists already discuss things like precautions, plans of care, and goals of interventions in their sessions, patients are still encouraged to ask questions to understand the entire course of treatment and clarify any misunderstandings. A study suggests that the active participation of patients in setting goals has a positive effect on both treatment outcomes and the quality of care.

Older adults can be difficult to convince to accept new treatments. They might fear unfamiliar exercises or modalities, or see them as unnecessary. When they ask questions, they would better understand how therapy can help them and might be more willing to accept the treatment. This would also make them stay motivated for therapy.

female physical therapist discussing older woman’s x-ray with her - questions to ask physical therapist

Clarify Exercises and Techniques

A patient must be able to correctly perform the exercises to get the desired outcomes. When the physical therapist incorporates a new exercise into the plan, they do demonstrate and teach the patient how to do it properly. However, older patients often have memory issues and forget the technique. They might have cognitive disorders, which can make learning difficult for them. Restricted mobility in older people also affects the way they perform exercises.

Hence, they need to ask their physical therapist several questions to fully understand the method of performing an exercise, the sequence of all movements, and the dos and don’ts. They might have to do some exercises as part of their home care plan. So, they must clarify everything by asking questions to correctly perform exercises by themselves.

Manage Pain and Discomfort

Patients new to physical therapy can experience pain, discomfort, and muscle soreness after their first few sessions. Discomfort can also be due to incorrectly performing an exercise or stretch. The patient might have tried to exceed their level of tolerance while performing a stretch which results in pain. Mild discomfort is also common in strengthening and mobility exercises, especially if the patient is recovering from an injury.

The patient needs to let their physical therapist know if they experience any pain during or after the session. Discussing your concerns will help the PT make necessary changes in the treatment to ensure your safety and comfort.

Build Trust and Connection

Building trust and confidence between older patients and their physical therapist is especially important, as they may have more complex health issues and are more vulnerable. When patients ask questions, it shows they are taking an active role in their care and want to be fully informed about their treatment plan. A physical therapist who takes the time to listen and answer questions thoroughly in an easy-to-understand way can easily build trust and confidence with older patients.

Creating a connection with older patients can help alleviate any fears or concerns they may have about their treatment. They would want their physical therapist to be committed to their well-being and understand their unique needs. By showing empathy and building a connection, physical therapists can help older patients feel more comfortable with the treatment process and more confident in their ability to achieve positive outcomes.

Male physical therapist demonstrating the older man to try to walk again - questions for physical therapist

5 Good Questions To Ask a Physical Therapist on the First Visit

During the initial meeting between a patient and their physical therapist, the primary focus is building a rapport and establishing familiarity. The physical therapist will conduct a medical history review, perform a comprehensive physical examination, and evaluate the patient thoroughly.

Patients should use this opportunity to ask any pertinent questions to ensure they have selected the right physical therapist who understands their condition and can provide the most effective physical therapy treatment. Following are some good questions to ask a physical therapist on your first visit:

1.What are your qualifications? What is your experience with my condition?


When a patient visits a physical therapist for the first time, they should ask about the therapist’s qualifications, training, and experience with various conditions. It helps them choose the right PT for their treatment. Some physical therapists offer a free consultation wherein you can schedule an appointment and ask about their range of services, professional experiences, and career development.

2.What are the short-term and long-term goals of my physical therapy treatment plan?


Asking about goals allows patients to have realistic expectations from the treatment and stay motivated throughout the therapy. They also get to track their progress and feel more in control of their rehabilitation journey.

3.Are there any risks associated with physical therapy?


Usually, older patients are more vulnerable to injuries. They also have pre-existing conditions that can cause complications. That’s why such patients and their loved ones are concerned about the risks and side effects associated with physical therapy.

4.How long can I receive physical therapy?


Patients may ask about the duration of physical therapy to understand the treatment costs and confirm whether sessions are covered by their insurance.

5.Can physical therapy be renewed once it ends?


This question will allow patients to know if they’re going to need physical therapy again. They might just need a general fitness and wellness plan to follow at home. Renewal is also dependent on the physician’s referral.

5 Questions To Ask Your Physical Therapist During the Treatment

Some patients might not understand the complexity of their condition or the improvement physical therapy is showing in their condition. Besides, older patients often have low tolerance and get agitated due to fatigue and low energy levels. It’s also possible that some exercises might not be working for them. Hence, it’s very important to communicate with their physical therapist during sessions. Here are five questions to ask your physical therapist during treatment. These questions will help the physical therapist to adjust the care plan to maximize the outcome without causing discomfort and overexertion.

1.How has my progress been since the last session?


When patients begin physical therapy, they typically need a number of sessions before they recover. So, they will want to know whether they are gaining any benefits from every subsequent session. Besides, asking this question helps the physical therapist closely monitor and discuss the progress along the way.

2.What changes or adjustments need to be made to the treatment plan?


Patients might show concern about changes or progression of exercise plans if there is a significant improvement or a certain exercise or stretch is not working for a patient.

3.Why do I feel sore after the session?


Muscle soreness is quite common after an exercise session, especially in older patients, patients with weak musculature, and those recovering from a bedridden condition. You may also complain about feeling sore if you’re new to exercise. If you have trouble doing exercises, speak with your therapist to discuss how to improve.

4.What would happen if I don’t follow the home plan?


Many patients don’t follow their home exercise plan because they don’t understand its importance and assume that the therapist’s session would be enough to help them recover. So, if you or your loved one needs to clarify about the home plan, discuss it with your therapist.

5.Why is it taking longer than expected?


The recovery process is unique for each individual. Some patients recover faster, while it takes longer for others. It depends on the patient’s motivation, age, physical health, and level of injury. Patients might get frustrated if they don’t see any progress and assume it’s not working out for them. Communicating with your PT can ensure you are satisfied with the treatment.

Female physical therapist and older man discussing his condition on the first visit - good questions to ask a physical therapist

5 Questions About Physical Therapy Seniors With Specific Diseases Ask

Physical therapy proves to be effective in improving the symptoms and controlling the progression of Parkinsonism. It helps the patients to stay active and maintain their quality of life. When Parkinson’s patients seek physical therapy, they would have many questions about their condition and the role of physical therapy, and if there is any chance of improvement at all. They are likely to have many fears and doubts about the treatment. It’s the responsibility of the physical therapist to satisfy the patient through patient education and good therapy. Some of the common questions about physical therapy that Parkinson’s patients or their loved ones might ask a therapist are:

1.What is your experience in treating patients with Parkinson’s or dementia?

If it’s your first time seeking physical therapy or you’re switching to a new physical therapist for a Parkinson’s patient, choose a physical therapist with prior experience in dealing with Parkinson’s patients. A physical therapist with no previous experience with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or other forms of dementia may not fully comprehend the severity of your disease, which affects the quality of care you get.

2.What stage is my disease at? Will I be able to maintain my current activity level?

Since Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, patients ask questions about the severity of their disease, the progression of their symptoms, and if they will be able to maintain their level of independence. Getting adequate information would help them stay motivated and confident while seeking physical therapy.

3.How do I stop tremors while exercising?

Patients with Parkinsonism may experience tremors while doing exercise. So, they might worry if the therapy is increasing the symptoms. When Parkinson’s patients start exercising, they may experience tremors or shaking due to muscle fatigue. When you ask your physical therapist about stopping and controlling them, they will evaluate your habits before and after the session and might also reduce the exercise’s intensity and gradually increase it over the course of treatment.

4.Why do I feel exhausted after doing a few repetitions? What should I do to manage it?

Parkinson’s patients generally experience fatigue and mental and physical exhaustion. So, they should ask their PT if it’s worsening after therapy. This would allow their PT to adjust the exercise plan according to their tolerance level.

5.What environmental modifications are needed to be done at home?

Besides physical therapy, patients with Parkinson’s may need environmental modifications to minimize the risk of falls and accidents in their homes. Talk to your physical therapist if you’re not sure what modifications you can make at home.

physical therapist helping patient hold a dumbbell in her hand

5 Questions Physical Therapists Ask Patients

On the first visit, the physical therapist will do an initial evaluation. They would ask various questions about the patient’s medical history and other relevant factors that could help in choosing the right care plan. Since every patient is unique, they require a personalized approach to treatment. By asking the right questions, physical therapists can correctly identify the problem and choose the most effective interventions. Communication is also crucial during treatment to monitor the patient’s progress and modify the treatment plan if required. Here are a few questions physical therapists ask patients during treatment:

1.Have you experienced any changes in your pain or discomfort since starting physical therapy?

You need to tell your PT if there is an exaggeration or alleviation in your pain due to physical therapy sessions. Also, let them know if there’s some new discomfort you’ve been experiencing since starting the treatment so they can make any necessary modifications to your exercises.

2.Do you feel you have improved in your mobility or balance since you started physical therapy?

If you notice any improvements in your mobility, balance, strength, or gait, let your physical therapist know. It helps them to understand what’s working for you and what needs to be changed.

3.Is there any particular exercise or stretch that you find challenging or uncomfortable?

Some exercises can be challenging or painful to perform especially for older patients. If that’s the case, don’t push yourself too hard. Inform your PT so they can recommend less strenuous exercises.

4.Were you able to complete the exercises or stretches you were prescribed at home?

Often, older people and patients recovering from severe injuries find it hard to complete the prescribed repetitions or sets of exercises. Instead of lying, it’s better to tell your PT the truth so they can reduce the number of repetitions and sets according to your stamina.

5.Could you tell us how your experience with physical therapy has been so far and if there is anything we can do to make it better?

This question is very helpful to physical therapists in monitoring your progress and ensuring the best physical therapy experience for you.

Female physiotherapist asking older make patient - questions physical therapists ask patients


Asking the right questions during a physical therapy session can help you get the most out of your treatment and achieve your rehabilitation goals faster. If you want to better understand your condition, treatment options, and what to expect during therapy sessions, our guide can help you ask the right questions to a physical therapist. By communicating effectively with your PT and working together towards a common goal, you can maximize the benefits of physical therapy and improve your overall quality of life.

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