Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
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Do I need a physician’s prescription or referral to start physical therapy?
No, you do not need a referral or prescription to come to physical therapy.
Michigan law allows you to come directly to physical therapy, without a prescription or referral, for 21 days or 10 treatments, whichever is first. If you need to continue beyond the 21 day/10 treatments a prescription is necessary. We can send our plan of care to your physician to facilitate your ability to secure a prescription, if necessary.
If we find that you are not demonstrating progress in a timely manner or are not a candidate for physical therapy, we will let you know and will refer you to an appropriate provider.
What is pelvic health physical therapy? I’ve never heard of it.
Pelvic health physical therapy is a specialized type of physical therapy requiring advanced, post graduate training to address problems in the pelvic region. We are Doctors of Physical Therapy, meaning we have doctoral level education to take care of you. There are many muscles, nerves, blood vessels, connective tissues and joints in the pelvic region and problems in these can contribute to pain, issues with bowel and bladder control, pelvic organ support problems and sexual problems. At Purple Mountain PT we have been working in pelvic health for more than two decades and provide you with one-on-one care that is individualized and directed towards achieving your goals. Your pelvic health involves a complex coordination of all of your body’s systems and we provide treatment that looks beyond solely the pelvic floor muscles. To get you the results you need, we will be examining and treating your low back, sacrum, hips, thighs and abdomen. Sometimes we find problems in people’s calves and feet, as well. Other people come to us with neck and TM joint musculoskeletal concerns that also may be throwing off their pelvic health. We will treat what we find and help you improve.
What is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor (also called the pelvic diaphragm) is a series of muscles that lie at the bottom of your pelvis. These muscles serve important functions for bowel, bladder and sexual health as well as providing support to your pelvic organs. The support to the organs is especially important for women because without this support the organs can descend through the vagina and develop a pelvic organ prolapse. The pelvic floor has a baseline level of activation at all times because they are postural muscles. They also have the ability to contract, which should cause them to lift up. Ideally, your pelvic floor contractions would have good strength, timing and speed. Additionally, they need to be able to lengthen at the appropriate times to allow for defecation and urination. These muscles do not operate in isolation; they coordinate with other muscles of the core to function properly. Our expertise lies in helping you rehabilitate these muscles and the coordination of all of your core muscles to resolve your bowel, bladder and sexual health issues and to optimize support to your organs.
My doctor suggested I go to a certain physical therapist, but can I choose to come to you?
Yes, you can always choose who your physical therapist will be. You are not required to go to the person or place that your physician suggested.
Do you take insurance?
No. To provide you with our high standard of care and individualized treatment sessions with our undivided attention on you, we are not contracted providers with insurance. We require payment at the time of service and we will provide you with a receipt that you may submit to your insurance for reimbursement, if you choose. You may pay with credit card, check, cash, HSA funds and FSA accounts.
Can I pay you using my health savings account or flexible spending account?
Yes, you can. Physical therapy is an approved usage for your HSA and FSA accounts. We also accept major credit cards, check and cash.
Will my insurance cover my physical therapy?
Maybe. Many of our patients do receive some reimbursement for their physical therapy. We provide you with a receipt that, if you choose, you can submit to your insurance. Physical therapy is typically a covered benefit within insurance plans, but insurance plans vary and you would have to contact your insurance company to determine if they will reimburse you.
What is your cancellation policy?
We ask that you respect the time that you have reserved and attend your scheduled appointments. We understand that life is busy and you may need to change or cancel an appointment. We’ll work with your scheduling needs and we hope you understand that we cannot continually hold an appointment time for you if you repeatedly end up not being able to come. Our policy is to kindly request, at minimum, 24 hours notice if you must cancel or change your appointment. More notice is always appreciated. Once you know us, you will understand that we are flexible people and we do our best to work with you. We understand illness and emergencies occur and we can respect these issues. However, we reserve the right and have a policy to charge you the full visit cost for all cancellations with less than 24 hours notice and to cancel any future appointments following two missed appointments. We don’t like charging you for missed appointments, but please recognize that when you secure an appointment in our day, we promise you individualized care and our undivided attention. We take that time seriously and we ask you to please respect this.
How long will I have to come to physical therapy?
Your treatment program, including the number of appointments, will be based on your condition, evaluation findings, goals and progress. Each person’s condition is different so we cannot provide a clear timeframe until we have met. Following your evaluation we can establish your plan of care, including number of visits.
What if I have Medicare insurance?
We are not a participating provider with Medicare. Medicare requires you to receive all covered physical therapy services from a Medicare provider. Therefore, for your Medicare covered PT needs you are required to go to a Medicare provider. If you would like to come to us for wellness services or for other non-covered services it may be possible. Please call us at (616) 516-4334 with your specific inquiry so we can determine if your needs meet the Medicare rules to come to us. In this case, you would need to understand that your insurance is not covering these services
Will you leave me with an aide while you take care of another patient?
No. You will be treated in a private, comfortable treatment room. Your appointment is uninterrupted, one-on-one with your physical therapist. We do not hand you off to another therapist, physical therapist assistant or physical therapist aide. Your time is 100% with your physical therapist.
What should I bring to my first appointment?
Please complete your intake forms online in advance, or you can arrive early and complete them in our office. If you have a prescription or referral, please bring it with you. The most important thing we need is you at the appointment, ready to detail your history, symptoms and goals! Wearing comfortable clothing is helpful, but not required. We require payment for the appointment at the time of service. Please bring your identification. We accept major credit cards, health savings account cards, check and cash.
What can I expect at my first appointment?
- A welcoming atmosphere and comfortable space to discreetly review your history, present concerns and goals.
- The time and space for you to tell your story, because often it is these details you provide that inform the best course of treatment forward.
- Review of your medical history to identify other conditions or experiences that may have contributed to your pelvic condition (such as constipation, migraines or anxiety).
- Conversation regarding exercise habits, stress, your day to day life activities, nutrition and wellness.
- Establishment of your goals and a plan of care directed toward these goals being achieved.
- An examination of your abdomen, hips, thighs, spine and pelvis. This includes evaluating muscles, nerves, connective tissue, fascia, blood flow, joint range of motion, flexibility and biomechanics.
- Feedback and communication throughout the evaluation letting you know what is being discovered, what you can do about it and what physical therapy can do for it.
- Instructions in effective exercises and behavioral modifications for you to implement at home.
What treatments do you offer?
We employ a variety of treatments to optimize your recovery. Your evaluation will determine what is recommended for you. Some of the treatments we use include hands-on manual therapy, myofascial mobilization, trigger point release, trigger point dry needling, joint mobilization, therapeutic exercise for strength and conditioning, neuromuscular reeducation for teaching you how to rehabilitate the firing/coordination of your muscles, stretching and functional range of motion activities, biofeedback heart rate variability coherence training, education in your condition, pain neuroscience education, nutritional recommendations to reduce inflammation and address gut and bladder health, mind/body activities, home exercise program and behavioral modification training, bone health exercises and recommendations.
I have my period, should I come to my physical therapy appointment?
Yes. As you will discover during our appointments together, we treat your thoracic spine, lumbar spine, sacrum, hip girdles, thighs and abdomen, in addition to your pelvic floor. We have a lot of work to do together and there’s no reason to slow your progress due to your menstrual cycle. If you prefer, we can defer internal exams for that week and still accomplish a lot. If you are experiencing menstrual cramps, our patients tell us the cramps improve following an appointment.
I feel like I have a yeast infection or urinary tract infection, should I come to physical therapy?
You should always see your physician if you believe you have an infection. And, yes, you can still come to physical therapy. Many of our patients have pelvic pain conditions that mimic infections, even though no infection is present. If this is the case, you might find you feel less pain/discomfort following our appointment. If you are having an active infection, we may elect to defer internal work and, instead, address all of the external areas that we’ve identified that could benefit from treatment.
Do you treat men?
Yes, we treat men and have been for years! We have advanced training in men’s pelvic health physical therapy evaluation and treatment. We have many former male patients who would tell you that this is the treatment that gave them their lives back. We are pelvic health physical therapist specialists who treat men.
What kind of men do you treat?
We treat men of all ages and backgrounds with varied pelvic health conditions. Here’s a glimpse of some of the types of men we have treated: younger men, older men, midlife men, successful men, athletic men, couch potato men, married men, entrepreneurs, collegiate men, union workers, programmers, lawyers, teachers, accountants, salesmen, single men, gay men, musicians, straight men, retired men, gamers, motorcyclists, runners, basketball players, hockey players, cyclists; the list goes on. The men who come to us are as varied as you can imagine. We have met and helped men like you. You will find that our care for you is specific to men’s needs in general, and your needs, in particular.
Can I bring someone with me to my appointment?
Yes, absolutely! We want you to be comfortable and you are welcome to bring anyone you like to your appointment. Having your partner with you during an appointment can be beneficial for both of you because a lot of education happens. Also, we love babies! If you need to bring your baby to your appointment, we would love to meet him/her. It brings a smile to our face! Just realize that we will respond to the baby’s needs during your appointment, which might distract you.
Isn’t urinary incontinence normal after you’ve had kids?
No. This is not normal and should be taken seriously. There are proven treatments for incontinence. You don’t have to live with it.
I thought incontinence was just something that happens when you get old, am I too young to come to physical therapy for this?
Urinary or fecal incontinence should not be happening at any age. We treat women and men of all ages who struggle with incontinence. You are not too young to have this condition. In fact, there are plenty of research studies done on high level, young athletes who have incontinence. We have treated college aged people with incontinence, for example. And, if this is you, we know what to look for and how to design an effective treatment program to help you! Also, it is a myth that urinary incontinence is only from having a baby, we have treated many women and men who experience incontinence not related to having a baby!
Do you offer telehealth or virtual visits?
Yes, we do for patients living in Michigan and Illinois. We have experience working with people who often travel a distance to come to their appointments. Telehealth is a great option that might be appropriate for you. The education, exercise instruction and completion, self-care advice and some aspects of the heart rate variability coherence training we offer in-person can also be provided via telehealth. In a telehealth session we can evaluate you and provide treatment, all while you are at home. If you elect to have a telehealth appointment, we can also advise you if it is best for you to come to our clinic for in-person care. There are some things that, obviously, cannot be done via telehealth and in-person care provides you with additional treatment interventions and evaluative measures. We can also provide your care in a hybrid manner, as well, with some visits via telehealth and others in person.
I live out of town; can you help me?
If you would like to travel to the Grand Rapids area to receive treatment, we recommend a series of daily sessions, each of two hours in length, for 3 to 5 days. This provides you a high quality and individualized evaluation and treatment, including education and instruction in exercises and self-care at home. Typically, you should notice improvements from this treatment, such that you can tell we are on the right track. When you return home, we can continue with telehealth appointments to provide you additional care, if you live in Michigan or Illinois. It may also be best for you to seek treatment in your home region with a skilled pelvic health physical therapist. If you would like us to advise your chosen physical therapist, we are happy to do so. Some patients have elected to bring their physical therapist to their appointments to observe your treatment. If you are unable to find someone in your area, we will work with you to determine an appropriate timeframe for when to return to physical therapy for follow up treatment. Our location is within ten minutes of numerous hotel choices and also the Grand Rapids airport, Gerald R. Ford Airport.
I have a history of trauma and am scared to come. How can you help me?
We are here to help you in a safe, compassionate and gentle environment. We understand that a history of trauma can be an important contributor to your well-being and your pelvic health challenges today. We use trauma-informed methods and together we will find a path forward. We work within your comfort zone and have many techniques we can utilize that you might prefer. One such technique, biofeedback heartrate variability coherence training, is a powerful tool to help shift the autonomic nervous system away from a sympathetic response of fight/flight and to create more tone in the parasympathetic nervous system and Vagus Nerve, the portion of your nervous system that calms our system. You might prefer to begin our time with some biofeedback HRV training to help your mind and body balance and be able to better respond to our treatment.
Can I come to physical therapy even if I don’t have an injury? I’d like advice on how to keep my pelvis, bladder and pelvic floor strong as I age, but don’t have a big problem right now.
Yes. Michigan law allows you to come to physical therapy for injury prevention purposes and to enhance your fitness. We are here to help you meet your health and wellbeing goals. If you want to learn how to maintain or improve your pelvic floor strength and function, bone health, address your fitness, weight or other goals, we can help design a program that meets your needs.
Can I come to physical therapy just for a checkup?
Yes. We offer checkups! Physical therapists are musculoskeletal and movement specialists. You can come to Purple Mountain physical therapy for a checkup that is specific to your pelvic health or your general musculoskeletal, fitness and movement concerns. We can assess your fitness, joint mobility, strength, balance, posture or other concerns. If you have questions about what exercises and fitness routine might be recommended for you, we can advise you. Wondering how your pelvic floor is doing? We can let you know. Wondering what exercises and self-care might help you lose your menopause associated weight gain? We can help with that! Your checkup will give you recommendations for exercise, wellness and self-care going forward on your own.