Physiotherapy: what to expect

Physiotherapy: what to expect


Posted by: Beth Toop (Physiotherapist)

If you’ve been involved in an accident and sustained an injury you’ve never experienced before, it can be daunting and confusing to understand which treatment or therapy you need. It’s always important to get a professional diagnosis from a doctor in this instance.

In certain circumstances, if you’ve sustained a smaller injury that does require treatment, such as minor whiplash or a sprain, your personal injury solicitor may organise for you to meet with a physiotherapist for treatment.

All injuries are different and need to be assessed and subsequently diagnosed before treatment so it’s difficult to give a general insight of how a visit to your physiotherapist will go. However, for simpler and more common injuries such as a sprain, once diagnosed, here’s what you can expect:


First, the physiotherapist will initially complete a ‘subjective assessment’, which will include questions about your injury; for example how it happened and when it happened. This part of the assessment will also include questions about your past medical history and any medications you are taking. It is important for the physiotherapist you are seeing to be able to get a detailed history from you so they can proceed with an individualised treatment programme.

Following the ‘subjective assessment’ your physiotherapist will complete an ‘objective assessment.’ For example, if your ‘subjective assessment’ shows a sprained ankle joint, the physiotherapist would want to look at the ankle’s range of movement, strength, balance and proprioception compared to the non-injured ankle. It is usually a good idea to wear clothing that is easy to move in like shorts so that the physiotherapist can observe what is happening and so it’s easy for you to complete any exercises. They will also look for any redness, swelling and bruising and may examine around the ankle joint (for example) and surrounding soft tissue. They will also observe your gait pattern (locomotion achieved through the movement of human limbs) to look for any abnormalities due to the injury.

Treatment plan

Providing there are no contraindications (a specific situation in which a drug, procedure, or surgery should not be used because it may be harmful to the person) or red flags highlighted from the assessment, you will then most likely be provided with an exercise programme and advice to complete at home. This could include for example; a simple range of movement exercises, strengthening exercises with Thera-bands (resistance bands) and wobble board exercises.

The sets and repetitions will be set differently for each individual depending on the severity and circumstances of the injury, and it is important that you complete your programme regularly as instructed by your physiotherapist to get the best results and to progress it only as instructed.

Typically, your physiotherapist will see you periodically to monitor your progress and help you to progress your exercises. They will monitor the changes in your range of movement and strength. When patients and physiotherapists work together to achieve patient centred goals the results often reflect this. You will be discharged from physiotherapy when you have met your goals and your injury has improved.

For more information on physiotherapy, visit here.

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