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What to expect in your initial Physio appointment

Whether it’s your first time seeing a Physiotherapist or you’re switching therapists, an initial assessment can seem daunting. What will they ask? Will my child behave? What will they want to see?... and a hundred other thoughts racing through your mind we’re sure. But don’t worry! Let’s talk about it and get you ready.

What is in “Initial Assessment”?

Think of an Initial Assessment as more of a “meet and greet”. This is a chance for therapists to meet you and your child, find out a little bit about your background, and understand exactly what you want to be getting out of therapy (goals, etc). This is also a chance for YOU to meet the therapists and feel out if it’s going to be a good fit for you as well! Use this time to ask any questions, and make it really clear on what you want or don’t want.

Each Company (and therapist) will have different ways to do initial assessments. Typically it has 4 parts: Introduction, Observation, Assessment, Plan.

Introduction

Typically the initial assessment will start off with some paperwork and talking through things such as pregnancy history, medical history, diagnosis, milestones, and what concerns/goals you have for your child.

Observation

Some therapists are doing this during the introduction, sneakily multitasking and watching what your child is doing, while others may do this after, giving your child a few minutes to play without direction to see what they naturally do. This is a great way to see what your child is capable of and how their body moves naturally.

They will be looking at:
- How your child moves
- How your child communicates
- How your child plays with toys
- Any sort of asymmetries such as hand dominance, looking one way more than the other, leg preference, etc.
- Any equipment they are using such as orthotics/AFO’s, supportive clothing, braces, etc.

Assessment

The introduction conversation and observations will then determine what needs to be assessed. This can vary, and will be different for almost every kids we see! Some common things we might check are:

- Range of motion: feeling for any restrictions due to tightness or are they really super flexible?

- Functional tasks: can they….sit? walk? jump? etc.

- Eye follow

- Gait Assessment: How do they walk?? Tip toes, feet in/out, big/little steps, or is one side of the body different to the other and WHY!

- Reflexes: little taps on joints such as knee, elbow, ankle to see how their reflexes are responding

Plan

All of these will give your therapist a picture of what the problem areas are and what they will want to work on. During this time they may tell you what they found, their area of concerns, therapist goals, and the frequency of therapy they need (weekly, fortnightly, etc). We then combine this with parent goals, funding, and any other concerns you may have.

An initial assessment can seem a bit overwhelming and scary but we hope this takes out some of that worry and makes it a little easier for you!

Tips!

-Bring your child’s favourite toy
-Bring a snack/drink
-Write down any concerns/questions you have
-Don’t stress if your child ‘isn’t behaving’ as it’s a new environment and new people, it’s ok!

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