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  • Writer's pictureMark Macdonald

What to expect from your first consultation?

Preparing for your appointment


Do I need a referral? Generally you don't need a referral to have physiotherapy. There are certain patient categories like DVA and worker's compensation and CTP patients who need a referral from a GP or specialist. You GP may also deem you eligible for physiotherapy under a care plan for chronic health conditions - there is a special referral form for this.


What should you bring?

  1. Your referral

  2. Any x-rays or scans. If you don't have hard copies let us know where you had them done.

  3. Health Fund card (or medicare card if on a GP referred care plan

  4. Wear appropriate clothing - shorts are great for leg injuries and singlet tops for shoulders




What will happen during my first appointment?


You will be required to fill out some paperwork before your appointment so arrive 5-10 minutes early. That way we can get the consultation started on time.


You physio will ask you some questions about your injury, how it happened, what symptoms you are experiencing. They will also ask some general medical questions. This part of the assessment allows the physio to start to form a hypothesis about what type of injury you may have suffered.



Part two of your assessment will be physical examination. The physio will run through a range of tests including range of motion, swelling, strength, neurological testing and special tests for ligaments, tendons etc. Your physio will also feel (or palpate) around the injured area to help with the assessment.


The information gained from both parts of the assessment helps your physio to be able to give you a diagnosis. Sometimes there is too much swelling or not enough movement in a joint to be able to form that diagnosis. Your physio may suggest that you get some imaging done to help give a more accurate diagnosis - however for most injuries, imaging is not required.


Perhaps the most important part of your first visit is what does next. Your physio will give you an explanation of your problem, diagnosis, prognosis and a plan of what is going to happen with treatment on that day.


Hearing your diagnosis is not always a pleasant experience. It could be something that is going to put you out of action for a long period. This is also your chance to ask any questions you may have.


Physiotherapy Treatment


Your physio will utilise a variety of treatment options to aid in your recovery from injury including but not limited to;

  • manual therapy

  • stretching

  • strength training

  • taping

  • bracing

  • orthotic therapy


It is important to let your physio know how you are feeling during the treatment. Any change in your symptoms or pain is important.


At the end of your first session you will receive a Rehabilitation Action Plan (RAP). The RAP will detail your diagnosis, expected recovery time, what exercises and how often you need to do them at home, what will happen if things don't progress as planned and any other information that may be relevant. On your RAP there will also be written what your physio believes is the optimal number of treatments over the next few weeks. It is important to follow this treatment frequency to help with optimal recovery.


Your physiotherapy rehabilitation should be a shared experience. You and your physio can

make decisions about your rehabilitation together to ensure the best recovery possible.

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