Why a yearly physical therapy visit will make you a better human.

Recently, I went to the dentist for my bi-yearly exam.  As per usual, my exam went well…no cavities and no problems.  My hygienist did a great job cleaning, flossing, and polishing my teeth, and I felt very good about my smile following.  So it got me thinking…

Functional Movement Screen

Why don’t my patient’s get the same treatment?  Of course, I’m not going to stick my hands in their mouth, but why aren’t they getting the same preventative and consultative treatment?  The benefits of the bi-yearly visit are unquestionable.  You get seen by a medical professional who analyzes your current situation, and based on your exam suggests ways to better yourself.

So in a society where obesity is the norm, and there is more and more push for people to take control of their health, why don’t people get the same treatment from their physio (physical therapist)?   The benefits of seeing a physio are worth well worth their weight in gold.  Here are just a few:

1. Consultation from a doctor of physical therapy

Much like your yearly physical from a physician/dentist, your physical therapist can answer any questions you have about your physical health.

2. Physical movement screen

A physio will put you through several dynamic tests to assess your mobility, motor control, strength, flexibility, balance, and posture, among other physical tests.  From here, they can help narrow down areas where you can improve.

3. Joint examination

Physical therapists have the ability to use their hands to examine your joints, and in doing so can determine if you are in need of stabilization or mobilization.  Common areas of interest include the spine, shoulders, hips, and ankles.

4. Individualized home exercise program

Following your examination, a printed home exercise should be given to you, outlining what the physio’s top interventions are based on your particular screen.

5. Intermittent follow-up and progression

You should ask for your physio’s contact information, so that you may stay in touch for proper progression of interventions, or know when to follow-up and be seen again.

6. Red flag screen for potential health problems

Physical therapists are now responsible to screen for serious health problems, called red flags.  While unable to provide any medical diagnoses, order imaging, or prescribe medications, PT’s can suggest referral to other health care providers if they suspect the presence of red flags.

Why Provide An Annual Check-up

  • Clients Benefit: Physical therapists have the education, experience, and expertise necessary to provide a broad health screening to allow tracking the patient’s health status over time. It may also lead to a referral for a physical therapist evaluation and treatment plan or to another health care professional for potential problems identified during the checkup.
  • Physical Therapists Benefit: An annual visit allows clinics to diversify their services, bringing in new clients and retaining current clients as physical therapists create ongoing relationships with their client base. It also diversifies the income string by providing a source not dependent on third-party payers.

How do you get in touch with the right PT?

There are very well trained PT’s all over the country.  To help differentiate which one(s) may be able to help you, I suggest the following.

Look for those with specialty certifications:

  • Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS)
  • Sports Clinical Specialist (SCS)
  • Fellow of American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapy (FAAOMPT)
  • Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)
  • Functional Movement Screen (FMS) certified

Talk with your friends.

  • If you’ve never been to an outpatient orthopedic physical therapist, chat with your friends for recommendations.

Do your research.

  • I’d start with http://clinicalathlete.com and search near your hometown.


At this time, annual movement screens by a PT are not covered under typical health insurance policies. Because of this, your visit will likely be a cash-pay appointment.  While some may struggle with the idea of paying, my question is what price do you put on your health?  A $75-$100 pricetag is well worth the money if it makes you a better human.