Factors That Determine How Long a Single Physical Therapy Session Lasts

Physical therapy is highly beneficial for building strength, increasing balance and reducing pain after surgery or injury, as a physical therapist, like from AmeriWell Clinics, can explain. If your doctor recommends physical therapy, you may wonder how much time you need to set aside for each visit. The following factors can determine how long you can expect a single physical therapy session to last:

You Are Attending Your First Session

During your first appointment, the physical therapist will do a thorough evaluation of your condition that includes:

  • Understanding the cause of the problem
  • Determining your functionality before the problem
  • Evaluating your current capacity
  • Developing a treatment plan with a measurable goal
  • Reviewing your medical conditions

The first appointment with a physical therapist might take over one hour to adequately review all of the circumstances that could affect your treatment course. Sometimes, therapy begins during the same visit and can extend the length of this session.

Subsequent Visits

After an initial evaluation and assessment, physical therapy visits consist of various treatment modalities that depend upon a patient’s particular dysfunction. Session length can vary according to therapeutic focus, which may include:

  • Physical exercises and manipulation: Patients often perform various activities under a trained therapist’s guidance to increase muscle strength, flexibility and endurance. Sessions may consist of assisted movements and employ equipment, including bikes, treadmills and resistance bands. 
  • Massage: Physical therapy sessions are frequently painful due to diminished capacity in muscles, tendons or joints. Massage can reduce pain while performing exercises by releasing tension in these areas.  
  • Ultra-Sound: This treatment can introduce deep heat into damaged muscles and ligaments to increase their flexibility and increase blood circulation that promotes healing.
  • Electrical Stimulation: Damaged muscles, tendons and ligaments stimulated by electrical currents can induce contractions that prevent atrophy while patients work on rebuilding their strength during therapy.
  • Heat and Cold: The application of a moist, heated towel to an injury site before therapeutic exercises can improve circulation and flexibility. Cold packs immediately following physical therapy decreases resulting inflammation and pain.

The duration of a single physical therapy session depends upon the particular therapy administered. For instance, ultrasound or electrical stimulation can add up to fifteen minutes to the session of a patient who spends an additional hour riding a stationary bike and performing endurance exercises. Waiting for equipment to become available can also add to the length of a single visit.

Before starting a physical therapy regimen, speak with your therapist, who can explain how much time you should reserve for each session to ensure optimum results