I’ve heard so many clients of mine, Princeton locals, and physicians call this place Redcord. We’ve even had people call and insist they weren’t sure if they should come here because they were afraid of all the red ropes.
Well, I’m here to set the record straight. Our clinic name is Activcore. We are highly credentialed physical therapists and we do more than Redcord. As a doctor of physical therapy, I attended 4 years of college and 3 years of PT school to become licensed for what I do every day. I take continuing education courses to further my education and to maintain my license. And yes, while many of those courses taught me how to use the red ropes hanging from our ceiling, all of the other courses have nothing to do with Redcord.
My goal in this blog series is to answer for you a few of the questions I answer for my clients every day in each treatment session. I hope this will give you a better idea of what physical therapy is and what you could expect during a given treatment session with a specially trained physical therapist like me at Activcore.
The Initial Visit
When I see a client on my schedule for the first time, my first thought is excitement. I absolutely love my job because not only do I enjoy helping people reach their goals and seeing their faces light up when they can do something they couldn’t before, but I also love solving puzzles and having to think critically.
Before someone comes in, I look over the medical history they filled out online and start taking notes on the relevant information which may be related to why they’re coming in. I also take note of what I need more clarity on to form a full picture of why they are seeking help.
The first visit is for getting a big picture of what brings a new client in and what may be causing their problem. I learn so much from someone by having them tell their story, finding out what led them to seek help (even if they’ve been dealing with symptoms for months or years), and understanding what their motivation is and what they truly want to accomplish. Then it’s time to see what they can do and how they move.
Physical therapists are practitioners responsible for examining the way a person functions and moves. Most people who come to see me complain of something which usually involves pain or difficulty with some form of movement or function, but it doesn’t have to. Exceptions to pain can involve dizziness, lack of balance, instability, incontinence, poor posture and stiffness.
As a doctor of physical therapy who practices in the state of New Jersey, I am legally able and capable of evaluating and treating someone without them first seeing a physician or having an MRI or x-ray taken. How is that possible?
Well, I went through a whole lot of schooling and education to learn the difference between pain and other problems I can treat, versus symptoms caused by something I can’t treat. Believe it or not, many complaints of neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, and (you name it) pain can be treated and eliminated with the help of a skilled physical therapist without ever going to see a physician or getting an MRI. Really? YES, but that’s a different topic for another blog post.
On someone’s first visit, once I’ve heard their story and understand why they’re looking for help, I’m then looking to see how they move and the way their symptoms respond to specific movements, strength tests, stretching and/or manual intervention so that I can determine, first and foremost, what I think is actually causing the problem. Second, what I can do to help. Third, what they can do to help themselves. Fourth, how long I think (and science supports) it will take to reach their goals.
Truthfully, there are many times I never touch the red ropes hanging from the ceiling. On that first visit, my goal is so see if I can address their main goal and give them a taste of what achieving it feels like. Can I relieve their pain? Can I show them they will be able to raise their arm overhead or at least get a little closer without it hurting? Can I help them decrease the intensity of their migraine so they can think a little more clearly? If I can’t change something for the better in the initial few visits, then you better believe I’m telling them to see a physician.
Is it possible to have this effect on the very first visit? Absolutely. In fact, there's rarely an hour it doesn't happen.
How can these effects be achieved? I treat mobility limitations before stability limitations. This means, before I expect a client to perform a strength or balance exercise, I first apply a hands-on manual technique to reduce any pain or tension in the muscles, and to increase range of motion of the joints. Manual treatment techniques can have a profound impact on improving someone’s ability to perform an active movement requiring strength, coordination or balance.
In the next few blog posts, I will go into more depth on the various types of manual techniques and other methods used to treat my clients which don't always involve red ropes. Stay tuned!
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.