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How long does physical therapy take?

How Long Does Physical Therapy Take
4 minutes, 2 seconds

Wondering how long it takes to complete several sessions of physical therapy? There isn’t an easy answer to that question, because the amount of time physical therapy generally takes to complete depends on several important factors. You won’t know the number of sessions you’ll need without talking to your therapist. However, you can expect that your sessions will likely span over a few weeks, and maybe even a couple of months. No matter the amount of time your physical therapist recommends, you should know that it’s worth it. If you’re maybe hesitant to receive care because you know it’ll take several weeks to complete, you should keep in mind the end result. You’ll walk away from therapy feeling stronger and more protected from a new or worsening injury. 

If you want to learn about some of the factors that will determine how many physical therapy sessions you’ll need, keep reading below for some ideas.

What are some of the factors that affect how long physical therapy can take?

  • The type of injury — One of the factors that will affect how long physical therapy takes is the kind of injury you have sustained (if an injury is your reason for attending therapy). If you’re dealing with a strain or sprain, it may take minimal time. If you’re dealing with a fracture or have recently undergone major surgery, you’re looking at a lot more time at your physical therapy clinic. A more severe injury will require more time with your physical therapist just as it will require more time to heal. Your therapist will want to oversee the healing process and help you break up scar tissue buildup, improve your range of motion, boost mobility, and reduce pain and discomfort.
  • Your progress during sessions — Another deciding factor is the amount of progress you make during each of your sessions. Your physical therapist can decide that you may need more time in the clinic if you’re not improving as quickly or efficiently as they’d like you to be. Most therapists will tell you that the biggest deciding factor of a patient’s success is their motivation to do well. If a patient is determined to make progress, their sessions will likely take less time to complete. If a patient is unmotivated to perform their movements both in and out of sessions, they’ll probably take longer to get through all of their sessions.
  • If you do your exercises outside of sessions — Doing the exercises your physical therapist prescribes for you to do outside of your sessions is another important factor. By not doing these exercises, you’re essentially hindering your own progress and creating the need for continued sessions.
  • How long your body takes to heal — Everyone heals differently. This means that some people will naturally take less time to recover from an injury, while others may need more time. Your healing process will have an effect on how much time you’ll spend at physical therapy.

How does a physical therapist typically determine how many sessions you’ll need?

The factors listed above can indirectly affect how long you’ll spend getting physical therapy, but the points below are what your physical therapist uses to determine a realistic time period for you.

  • Initial evaluation — When you first make an appointment with a physical therapist, they’ll determine how long it will take for you to finish a treatment plan based on your reasons for coming in. If you’re visiting for an injury, they’ll factor in the type of injury and what steps they’ll need to take to help you repair that injury. If you’re coming to build strength in a weak area, they’ll want to assess your current level of strength and then determine how long it will take to get you to where you want to be.
  • Progression — A physical therapist will also determine how long your sessions will take based on your rate of progression or regression. If you consistently show improvement, you’ll likely need less time at physical therapy. If you’re regressing over time, that may signal to your physical therapist that you need more attention.
  • Check-ins — Your physical therapist may schedule a few extra sessions to keep an eye on your progress. These are essential maintenance sessions and allow your therapist to monitor your physical health over time ever after your regular sessions have stopped.

How long does a session typically last?

The standard for most physical therapy sessions is about an hour. Some take around 30 minutes, while others may go over an hour. Your physical therapist may want you to spend longer than an hour completing your sessions or less, depending on the treatment plan they come up with and your reason for going to your physical therapy sessions.

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch physical therapy

At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. 

Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you address whatever your reason for going to physical therapy may be. 

Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform. 

Come find help for your injury or chronic condition today!


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