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What to Expect at the First Occupational or Physical Therapy Appointment

The basics of the first occupational or physical therapy appointment

  • At Spine & Sport, patients can always expect physical therapy and occupational therapy based on the latest scientific and medical evidence, provided by highly-trained physical therapists. Jump to what to expect section
  • Patients should wear comfortable clothing during the session, and whenever possible wear clothing that allows the therapist to see the injured body part. Patients can expect their appointment to last about an hour. Jump to what to wear & bring section
  • Review our FAQ covering services, insurance coverage, costs and more. Jump to FAQ section

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The first occupational therapy or physical therapy  appointment & keys for success

Patients often wonder what to expect during their first appointment for these two types of therapy. Our team wants to ease concerns by explaining what will happen during the first physical therapy appointment and how one can prepare to get the most out of it.

At Spine & Sport, patients can always expect to receive physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) based on the latest scientific and medical evidence. Our therapists are highly-trained in evidence-based approaches, and many of our therapists have achieved advanced certifications.

We don’t expect patients to be familiar with occupational or physical therapy, the equipment or even being in a gym setting. We orient each individual to the process and her or his individual treatment plan. Our therapists have a passion to help others heal and know how to educate patients, while providing the motivation necessary for successful therapy.

We’ve compiled information below on what to do before the first appointment and what to bring. Patients can also review our physical therapy FAQ and information on insurance coverage.

Telehealth appointments available

To better serve our patients’ needs and to maintain safety, we’re now offering telehealth virtual appointments.

Telehealth appointment details:

  • Patients receive a unique link for each appointment via email or text 15 minutes prior to their appointment time.
  • Early for your telehealth appointment? Relax in our virtual waiting room.
  • Telehealth appointments require patients have access to the internet and use a device, a computer or cellphone that has a video camera.
  • Experiencing issues joining your virtual visit? Call your clinic for assistance.

Note for work-related injuries & workers’ compensation

Patients should immediately notify their employer if they have a work-related injury. The employer will guide the employee to a physician and a Medical Provider Network (MPN) specializing in work-related injuries. This can determine what occupational or physical therapy provider the patient may need to use.

We recommend seeing a physical or occupational therapist who is experienced in treating injured workers. A physical or occupational therapist who specializes in workplace injuries will have a better understanding of how the employee was hurt, how the workers’ compensation system operates, and what it takes to treat the injury and get the employee back to work quickly.

This expertise is available at all Spine & Sport clinics.

Before the first occupational or physical therapy  appointment

We ask that patients arrive 10-15 minutes prior to their appointments.

What to bring & what to wear to a PT or OT appointment

In addition to the new patient paperwork, please bring insurance card(s), a photo ID and physician’s prescription for therapy to the appointment if a prescription has been given. Water is available at all clinics, but patients are welcome to bring their own water bottle as well.

To get the most out of PT or OT appointments, patients will want to make sure to dress appropriately. Please wear comfortable clothing that is easy to move in. We recommend wearing athletic workout shoes. Do not wear sandals or flip flops to the appointment, as that creates a safety issue.

Depending on the injury, we may need to examine patients’ lower extremities or shoulder, so we ask that they please wear or bring shorts and a sleeveless shirt or t-shirt to the appointment.




Get informed: Appointment FAQ & other helpful information

What services are available at Spine & Sport?

Physical therapy treatments may include:

  • Manual therapy (hands-on).
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises.
  • Balance training activities.
  • Therapeutic exercise in water (pool therapy).

Our therapists spend a great deal of time demonstrating exercises, correcting improper form and showing each patient how to properly move his or her body to increase strength and mobility, and to prevent further injury.

See all general physical therapy services

View special physical therapy services by location

How long will my first occupational or physical therapy appointment take?

For your first appointment, we will schedule at least a 1 to 1 ½ -hour appointment. During your first appointment we’ll review your history and conduct a comprehensive evaluation. This ensures that our therapists gather all the information needed to design an effective treatment plan for each patient.

After the initial evaluation, typical appointments last about an hour.

How do I get the most out of therapy?

Partner with your physical therapist and be active in your recovery. At Spine & Sport Physical Therapy, we recognize that you play the most important role in your own recovery. To get the most out of therapy, we recommend that you adhere to your in-clinic therapy schedule, as well as following through on your home exercise program.

Communicate any issues or concerns to a member of your physical therapy team. We encourage you to ask questions to understand the specifics of each activity. Our therapists are also skilled educators and know that patient knowledge leads to better results.

Will I see the same therapist at every visit?

At Spine & Sport, we’re all about teamwork. Each patient gets a dedicated team of therapists, not just one individual. Each member of your team will know your treatment plan and medical history. Patients find that they build constructive relationships with each team member.

Is physical therapy covered by insurance?

Our services are covered by many health insurance plans, whether through employment plans, an individual’s personal insurance or government care plans. Please call your insurance carrier or our office to determine if we participate with your specific plan.


What insurance plans do you accept?

We accept most major insurance carriers. Insurance companies offer a variety of plans. While we participate with the carriers listed below, we do not always participate with all of their specific plans. It is important to call your insurance provider or our office to be certain of coverage before beginning treatment.

Commercial plans

This list includes major networks and does not constitute the only payers we accept. Please contact our clinic if your insurance is not listed. Commercial payers are PPO only unless otherwise noted. HMOs are listed separately below.

  • AAA.
  • AARP.
  • Aetna.
  • Allstate.
  • America’s Choice Provider Network.
  • Anthem Blue Cross.
  • Assurant Health.
  • Bankers Life & Casualty.
  • Blue Shield.
  • Cigna.
  • Coresource.
  • Farmers.
  • Geico.
  • HealthNet.
  • Mail Handler’s Bene-t.
  • Mercury.
  • Prime Health Services.
  • Sutter Select.
  • Travelers.
  • Tribal Health.
  • UMR.
  • UnitedHealthcare.
  • USAA.
  • Western Growers.
  • HMOs
  • CA Health & Wellness.
  • Community Care IPA.
  • Community Health Group.
  • Empire Physicians Medical Group.
  • Imperial County Physicians.
  • Imperial Health Holding.
  • Molina Healthcare.
  • Scripps Physicians.
  • UCSD.
  • Vantage.

Workers’ comp plans

  • AlignNetworks.
  • American Claims Mgmt.
  • Athens Administrators.
  • Berkshire Hathaway.
  • BroadSpire.
  • Chartis.
  • City of SD.
  • Corvel.
  • Corvel Therapy Program (CareIQ).
  • County of San Diego.
  • Esis.
  • Gallagher Bassett.
  • Liberty Mutual.
  • Matrix.
  • MedRisk.
  • Orchid Medical.
  • Priority Care Solutions.
  • Sedgwick.
  • State Comp.
  • Total Network Resources.
  • Travelers.
  • Tribal First.
  • York.
  • Zurich.

Government payers

  • ChampVA.
  • Department Labor (WA).
  • Department of Labor.
  • Medicare.
  • Tricare.
  • Veterans (WPS).

Other ways to pay physical therapy costs

We offer cash rates for patients with no health insurance.

Spine & Sport Physical Therapy also accepts personal injury liens, which are payments to us from any personal injury claim settlement you may receive.


We look forward to meeting you!

We are dedicated to addressing our patients’ needs and concerns. Please call us with any questions you might have or stop by to meet us in person prior to your initial appointment.

We look forward to meeting you. Thank you for choosing Spine & Sport Physical Therapy for your rehabilitation needs.


Quick links

  • Health Conditions
    Health Conditions
    At Spine & Sport Physical Therapy, our experts can treat a wide range of health conditions, injuries and orthopedic pain and and can provide post-surgical rehabilitation and other forms of recovery.
  • Patient Portal
    Patient Portal
    Use the Spine & Sport Physical Therapy Patient Portal to request an appointment or pay your bill online.
  • Physical Therapy
    Physical Therapy
    Regaining movement, easing pain and improving quality of life – these are just a few of the benefits of physical therapy. Learn how PT can help you.
  • Spine & Sport Physical Therapy Clinics
    Spine & Sport Physical Therapy Clinics
    Spine & Sport Physical Therapy has 40+ physical therapy clinics in Southern & Northern California and growing. Find a PT clinic near you.

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