You’re tied up.

The game is on the line. 

You hold your pickleball paddle in your hand with anticipation, waiting for the next serve from your arch nemesis (or your best friend, but right now, you can’t tell the difference). 

The ball snaps towards you, a bit faster than anticipated, towards your weak side.

You twist as you lunge, stretching your body to hit the ball and- *snap*

Pain shoots up your calf. Something tweaked. 

“Damn, I thought Pickleball was supposed to be low impact.” you think to yourself.

Now, your main concern is how to stop this pain and get back to normal for the tournament in two weeks. 

Well, physical therapy will help!

But if you are a Florida state resident who doesn’t have a clear picture of physical therapy, it's normal to feel unsure. 

Don’t worry. In this article, we are going to wash away all your misconceptions and provide all the necessary information that you need to know before seeing a physical therapist in Florida. So keep your attention up, and let’s unfold this important information for you. 

What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy addresses injuries and movement challenges, using exercises, therapeutic massage, electrical modalities, and various techniques to help boost mobility, ease pain, and ward off future issues. 

It helps improve the quality of life in almost all the injuries and disorders that interfere with your musculoskeletal system. However, as the field evolved and gained effectiveness in treatment over time, many people are still unsure whether it is the best option for them. 

Thus, they don’t have basic and necessary information before visiting a physical therapist. 

To help solve this problem, here are 11 important things that you need to consider if you are planning to see a physical therapist in Florida:

1. Do I Need A Referral For Physical Therapy?

Florida is a “direct access state,” which means patients have direct access to physical therapy services with some specific guidelines:

  • The patient's symptoms or condition must fall within the physical therapist's scope of practice. Otherwise, the physical therapist must refer the patient to an appropriate physician.
  • If the physical therapy treatment plan lasts longer than 30 days and the patient doesn’t have a referral for physical therapy, a practitioner of record (physician) must sign off on the plan after the first month of treatment. However, there are exceptions:
    • If a physician from another state has examined the patient and diagnosed them with a condition requiring physical therapy, then treatment can start.
  • Physical therapists are not authorized to see patients without a physician signing off on their plan of care in acute care settings such as hospitals, ambulatory facilities, surgical centers, and mobile surgical facilities.

2. How Long Are Physical Therapy Sessions?

A physical therapy session can vary greatly in duration, from as short as 15 minutes in intensive in-patient settings to over an hour.

In outpatient settings, sessions typically last between 30 to 60 minutes. Usually, the longer the session the more thorough the assessment, but the quality and intensity of the session matter too. If you’re spending the majority of the session with an assistant rather than with a DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy), then the longer length may not be as helpful.   

For example, at Plyogenix, our assessments are 90 minutes long, and our typical sessions are 60 minutes long. All done with a DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy). Extended sessions may lead to soreness akin to a workout or massage and are often a sign that you are progressing. 

At our practice, pushing clients hard and focusing on heavy/hard workouts is how we achieve the best results. That's what our ideal clients are looking for when they come to see us. However, excessive fatigue is counterproductive and may even worsen your condition, so it’s important to understand how far to push.

A skilled physical therapist can recognize fatigue and switch to other beneficial techniques, such as manual therapy, to optimize your session.

3. How Many Physical Therapy Sessions Does Insurance Cover?

Insurance coverage for physical therapy sessions varies depending on the specific insurance plan. Generally, insurance providers may cover a certain number of sessions per year or condition, often with limitations or requirements such as pre-authorization or a referral from a healthcare provider.

It’s important to note that Plyogenix does not currently accept insurance. This means that individuals seeking physical therapy services from Plyogenix must pay out-of-pocket for their sessions. However, depending on your out-of-network benefits, you could get partial or full reimbursement. We also accept HSA/FSA payments and have flexible “buy now, pay over time” options.

We make up for not working with insurance by providing beyond exceptional services, so our clients tell us.

4. How Long Before I Stop Feeling Pain?

Be aware of any strange feelings in your body. It's normal to feel some pain after therapy, but it should get better within 24 to 48 hours. 

Everyone’s body is unique, so it’s hard to tell how long it will be until you are pain-free from your injury. However, most musculoskeletal conditions have an average recovery timeline range that your physical therapist should be able to discuss with you after your initial assessment. 

Writing down how you feel after your therapy session, explaining any discomfort, soreness, or pain clearly, and sharing these with your physical therapist can help inform future sessions.

5. Does Physical Therapy Increase Settlement?

In Florida, physical therapy plays an important role in personal injury claims, affecting settlement amounts. It's not just about healing; it's also about getting fair compensation. Injuries like whiplash often require therapy, which can impact settlement negotiations. 

Detailed records and expert opinions showing the necessity of therapy are vital, as is calculating current and future medical expenses. So, does physical therapy increase settlement? Yes, with careful consideration and strategic planning.

At Plyogenix, we don't work with people who are looking for a settlement and have claims. It adds a ton of work outside of treatment, and our focus is on giving patients the best care possible so they can return to sports and regular activities pain-free.

6. What Should I Wear And Bring For My First Appointment?

For your first appointment, wear comfortable clothes like you'd wear to the gym. Bring your ID, medication list, any prescriptions, recent reports from your doctor, and any aids you're using.

We’re casual at Plyogenix, and you’ll often find our Physical Therapists in athleisure or their favorite team jerseys. 

7. How to Choose a Physical Therapist. 

Physical therapy requires a combined communication effort between the therapist and the patient. Feeling comfortable with your physical therapist is crucial. As a patient, trust in sharing vulnerable information will play a significant role in your healing journey. 

Establishing a strong and trustworthy relationship with your therapist enhances your chances of a full recovery. So trust your gut from the get-go! 

8. Seek Physical Therapists with Flexible Scheduling

Juggling busy schedules can make attending physical therapy sessions challenging. It's important to find a physical therapist who offers flexible appointment times to accommodate your availability.

As a quick side note, at Plyogenix, we prioritize your rehabilitation needs by offering flexible scheduling options from 7 am to 7 pm on weekdays. 

We understand the importance of convenience in accessing physical therapy, so we strive to provide appointments at times that suit you best.

9. Look for a Physical Therapist who is Up-to-date on Best Practices.

Most physical therapy clinics highlight manual therapy and their “exceptional manual skills.” This directly contradicts modern therapy practices and is arguably outdated. 

Manual therapy can decrease pain in the beginning stages, but exercise is what makes your body adapt, withstand more stress, and be more resilient. 

Manual therapy could also lead to dependency and make you think that you need the PT to rub on your painful body parts or else you won't get better. It may feel good in the short term, but it won’t do much in the long term.

A skilled physical therapist can guide you through stretches and simple exercises on post-surgery day one and scale your training all the way up to hitting PRs in the gym and competing at the highest level in your sport again. 

At Plyogenix, we try to promote independence. We're not like Batman, who's going to fix the issue for you. Instead, we are like Alfred (Batman's butler), gently guiding you toward success.

10. Understand that Physical Therapy Focuses on Healing, Not Adding Pain

Some individuals avoid exercise because they fear it might worsen their pain or cause discomfort in their joints.

However, physical therapy is all about making you feel better and improving your life, not making your pain worse. The main goal of physical therapy is to help reduce your pain and discomfort while enhancing your overall well-being. 

Physical therapists aim to find the cause of your pain and improve your movement using exercises and manual techniques.

For example, at Plyogenix, our physical therapists are trained to manage pain effectively. We customize treatment plans based on patient's needs, including their pain levels, and offer our Recovery Roadmap (personalized strategy and therapy) to alleviate pain and discomfort.

While it's normal to experience discomfort during rehabilitation, consistent treatment by a compassionate and skilled professional should lead to long-term pain relief and a return to your game and optimal lifestyle.

11. Look for a Physical Therapist with the Right Tools and Methods

Finding a facility that offers quality services is essential. While many outpatient physical therapy clinics offer basic treatments like heat, ultrasound, and electrical therapy, some have more advanced equipment and exercise machines. 

A skilled physical therapist will have the accurate tools to help you heal effectively. So look for a clinic with proper equipment and facilities for your needs. 

Be warned, though. Just because a clinic offers more bells and whistles does not always mean they can customize treatment to suit your needs.

Preparing for your First Visit

When you visit an outpatient physical therapist for the first time, prepare yourself for a comprehensive examination. Your PT will review your medical history, examine it to identify current and potential issues and limitations, and discuss your goals with you. Together, you'll create a realistic plan to help you progress.

At the end of the day, this healing process is all about you. So, it’s important to look for a physical therapist (PT) with whom you feel comfortable and who you believe has a genuine passion for patient care. 

Don't hesitate to ask questions and gather information before making your decision. It's better to annoy your PT and be fully informed than to choose the wrong person.

At Plyogenix, we imagine a future where every athlete can pursue their passion without being hindered by pain or false information. In this future, overcoming pain and injury is the norm, not the exception. 

We hope that now you have the necessary information in your pocket so that the next time you see a physical therapist in Florida, you’ll know what to expect.