Frequently Asked Questions

For Physical Therapy with Dr. Stendahl, you will have 60 minutes of one-on-one care in a private treatment room. Our set-up ensures your comfort and modesty, as well as access to a variety of resources for exercise and activity options.

Your First Visit

Q. Do I need a prescription from a physician to attend PT?

A. No. New York State allows Direct Access to physical therapy, meaning you can go directly to a physical therapist without waiting for a script or referral from a physician.

Q. How long is each appointment?

A. Each appointment is scheduled for 60 minutes of one-on-one care. This includes time for evaluation and discussion, hands-on manual therapy, rehabilitative exercise activities, and reviewing a home program to maintain gains.

Q. What should I wear to PT?

A. You can come in whatever you are wearing for the day. However, it may help to bring athletic clothing. Shorts are preferred over pants/leggings. Regardless of your clothing, the clinic will provide a clean gown and draping as needed.

Q. What should I bring to PT?

A. For the first session, it would helpful to bring anything given by your physician (prescription, test results, imaging). You could also bring the business card or contact information for any other healthcare or fitness professional you are seeing who you would like your PT to be in touch with.

Q. What should I expect to happen at PT appointments?

A. The initial evaluation starts with the patient history, followed by a comprehensive examination and initial treatment. Treatment usually includes hands-on manual therapy, rehabilitative exercise activities, and the initial home program. Follow-up appointments always start with an update from you, a brief re-evaluation to assess progress/change, and the treatment. Treatment techniques and activities are tailored to your needs and progressed to help you meet your PT goals.

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About Physical Therapy

Q. What types of injuries or diagnoses do you treat?

A. Complete lists of the most common injury types and diagnoses treated are found at the Orthopedic, Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation, and Prenatal/Postpartum Services pages.

Q. When can I expect to start feeling better?

A. Most patients notice improvement within the first few sessions. The exact timeline for recovery depends on the injury type and chronicity, and on individual lifestyle factors and health status. Your PT will work with you to manage expectations and complete rehab as efficiently as possible. It is typical to steadily improve with consistency in PT care and participation in the home exercises.

Q. Why choose Stendahl PT?

A. It can be difficult to find a therapist who is familiar with and skilled in treating pelvic conditions. In addition to being able to treat orthopedic and sports injuries, Dr. Stendahl is well-qualified and experienced in treating conditions and symptoms affecting pelvic function and maternal health (prenatal / postpartum). She also has training and experience in visceral manipulation, which allows her to integrate treatment of organ systems. Understanding the pelvis helps to treat other body regions like the low back and hips, and helps prevent recurrence of symptoms by making sure this critical core region is not ignored. Dr. Stendahl has been able to help resolve complex cases due to the ability to evaluate the relationship of the pelvic floor to the patient’s presentation.

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Pelvic Rehab Questions

Q. How is ‘pelvic PT’ different from other orthopedic PT, like for knee and back rehab?

A. Pelvic anatomy is made up of the same structures that are treated in common outpatient orthopedic settings, like joints, muscles, ligaments, nerves, and more. And many physical therapy techniques used to treat other body regions can be applied to the pelvic region to treat pelvic health issues. But not all physical therapists learn how to specifically assess and treat pelvic structures. So the label ‘pelvic PT’ is usually used to indicate that the therapist has advanced training in this area and is able to treat pelvic-specific dysfunction. For a list of the most common pelvic-specific dysfunction that Dr. Stendahl treats, please see the Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation page.

Q. What can I expect at a pelvic PT appointment?

A. Some of the pelvic structures cannot be seen or felt from the outside of the body because they are located in between the pelvic bones and under the gluteals (butt muscles). So for a complete assessment, an internal vaginal or rectal examination may be recommended. This will only be recommended if it is determined that your symptoms are related to internal pelvic structures, and such an assessment will only be performed with patient consent. All patients at Stendahl PT are seen in a private treatment room, and you will be provided with a full discussion of your symptoms and relevant anatomy so that you can be confident in what needs to be assessed and why.

Q. I was already treated for an infection and my latest lab test was normal, but I still feel symptoms. Should I try PT?

A. If your physician has ruled out an active infection and several weeks have passed without returning to normal, you should consider trying physical therapy. The cause for pelvic symptoms is varied and sometimes unknown, but can be initiated by an infection. During an infection or injury, the body reacts to protect you, often by muscle guarding (tightening). This increased muscle tension can continued after the infection is gone, and if it goes on for too long, can perpetuate your symptoms. But now, instead of being caused by the infection, the symptoms are due to the tight muscles compressing the nerves and blood vessels in the region. Compressed or irritated nerves and blood vessels can result in burning, itching, numbness, tingling, or other odd sensations that mimic those of an infection. Tight muscles can also result in abnormal bladder or bowel urgency, frequency, or voiding. All of these symptoms can be addressed by physical therapy.

Q. I’m a female being seen for pelvic floor. Can I still come in for PT if I’m on my period?

A. Yes, pelvic floor assessment and treatment can still be done during menstruation. Treatment can even help relieve menstrual symptoms, like cramps. If you prefer to avoid any specific assessment or treatment technique during this time, it is encouraged you still keep your appointment so that other important aspects of treatment can be addressed without losing valuable time during your healing process.

Q. I’m a female being seen for fertility support. Does it matter when during my cycle I schedule PT?

A. If you are actively trying to conceive, manual therapy treatment should be provided after your period and before ovulation. The goal of manual therapy to promote fertility is to optimize the natural mobility of the reproductive organs and to reduce the obstruction of any adhesions like scar tissue. The optimal time to work on this is before ovulation, in preparation for fertilization and implantation.

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Obstetrics Questions

Q. Why should I attend PT while I’m pregnant?

A. There are several important reasons to attend prenatal PT. One is to treat any existing pain or injury, which is important for optimizing your mobility and stability for the duration of the pregnancy and for reducing the risk of re-injury during childbirth. A second reason to attend prenatal PT is to prepare for labor and delivery – there are strategies available to prevent injury and reduce pain that can be tailored to your specific needs and birth plan. A third reason is to work on postural strategies and sleeping positions, to learn how to engage the core properly and to support the body as pregnancy continues, and in preparation for breastfeeding and carrying baby. Lastly, prenatal PT is a good time to develop an early postpartum plan for recovery after childbirth.

Q. Iʼm pregnant and do not have any regular pain or issues. Should I still attend PT before childbirth?

A. If you are not experiencing any particular issues, a PT prenatal evaluation is still recommended to assess posture, alignment, movement patterns, and pelvic floor function for predisposition to injury later in pregnancy or during childbirth. Eliminating postural and movement deficits at any point during a pregnancy is helpful preventively. Main areas assessed are standing posture, seated posture, respiratory patterns, sleeping positions, and transfers (lifting, getting up from floor, out of bed, etc.). Although seemingly simple, these tasks are foundational elements of pain and injury (either as cause or resolution), and are easy to do incorrectly due to bad habits or inattention. Dr. Stendahl also offers labor and delivery preparation, which includes strategies for pain management, movements to assist with fetal descent through the pelvis, and positioning to minimize risk of perineal tearing and musculoskeletal injuries like herniated disc and hip impingement. A good time to be seen for prenatal wellness is at the start of the 2nd trimester.

Q. Is there any reason I should attend PT postpartum if I had a normal labor and delivery without complications?

A. Yes! Dr. Stendahl believes all women should attend at least one postpartum visit with a physical therapist to address typical postpartum conditions that predispose women to issues later in life, and to develop a safe plan to progress towards your desired level of fitness/function. Most women report receiving very little information on what to expect with their bodies postpartum, and often are not referred for any continuing care after their routine six-week checkup. Attending PT within the first few months postpartum allows you the opportunity to learn more about what is normal and what is not, how to safely return to your highest level of fitness and function, to address any lingering issues like urinary leaking or diastasis recti (abdominal muscle separation), to address new issues like back pain from carrying baby, and to assess whether or not you are healing normally. A list of Postpartum conditions treated and a Postpartum treatment plan can be found on the Prenatal/Postpartum Care page.

Q. How soon after childbirth can I start PT?

A. A typical time to begin postpartum PT is two months after delivery. Many women choose to wait until clearance from their 6-week OB visit, but there is usually no limitation to beginning sooner unless you have experienced a complication or are home-bound. The earliest postpartum exercises will be foundational, and are usually suitable to perform immediately postpartum, including  pain management, breath-work, positioning for sleep and breast-feeding, and re-initiation of deep core postural muscles.

Q. Iʼm classified as a high risk pregnancy. Can I still attend prenatal PT?

A. Yes, with clearance from your OB-GYN. PT can be valuable in maintaining health and mobility during a high risk pregnancy. Treatment will depend on why your pregnancy is classified as high risk. Please obtain a prescription (or script) for physical therapy from your physician prior to attending PT, so that your PT can coordinate with your physician.

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Administrative Matters

Q. Do you accept insurance?

A. This practice uses a “fee for service” structure and is out-of-network with insurances, meaning payment is due at time of service, and we will help you to receive direct reimbursement if you have out-of-network benefits for physical therapy (see next question below). This structure specifically benefits patient recovery and overall costs spent, because your therapy time and quality of treatment are not limited by in-network insurance restrictions, allowing you the rehab support you need with hour-long, highly specialized PT care. (In-network insurances are particularly limiting for chronic pain conditions and abdominal/pelvic conditions.)

Q. Can I get reimbursed for out-of-network physical therapy?

A. Most patients do receive insurance reimbursement. As a fee-for-service practice, full payment for a PT visit is required at time of service. If you would like to submit for reimbursement, you will be given an itemized PT billing statement that you may submit to your insurance company if you have out-of-network benefits for PT. If you have coverage, you would be reimbursed directly from your insurance company. It is recommended that you call your insurance provider to ask about your “out-of-network benefits for physical therapy” and how to use those benefits.

Q. Why have one-hour sessions?

A. Sixty-minute appointments have been clinically shown to yield better results more efficaciously than shorter appointment times. This structure allows adequate time to provide thorough manual therapy and to appropriately supervise exercises to make sure that what you do at home before the next visit is exactly what you need. This structure also typically allows for more time in between visits, saving overall costs and allowing your PT plan of care to span across a timeline that is adequate for tissue healing, muscle growth, and safe progression to the highest level of activity you wish to achieve. At PT clinics that are in-network with insurances, patients typically get approximately 15-30 minutes of one-on-one time with the licensed physical therapist. This requires the patient to attend PT several times per week to accumulate 60 minutes of direct time with the therapist. At Stendahl PT, you will spend each entire 60-minute session with the licensed physical therapist. One hour of dedicated direct time allows for thorough treatment and continuity of care, and appointments less frequently yet consistently over a period of time. The end result is to not only resolve the current injury, but also to reduce the risk of symptom recurrence for life.

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