Your Physiotherapy Assessment – What It Should Include!

Your Physiotherapy Assessment – What It Should Include!

Physiotherapy clinics – it seems there is one on every corner! But how do you decide where to go?

I recently had a patient come into the clinic who was surprised when I asked her what she was hoping to get out of our physiotherapy assessment. This was her first time going to physiotherapy, and she had no clue what to expect! And she’s not alone! Many consumers have no way of gaging the quality of their physiotherapy service.

Today’s private insurance plans often do not cover a full course of physiotherapy, leaving most people to pay out of pocket for their allied health services. This means it is even more important that you get the most out of your physiotherapy assessment…. And get results!

In this post, we will go over what you should be expecting to get from your physiotherapy assessment!

Want to know if physiotherapy is right for you? Check out this post on 6 Types of Injuries Treated by Physiotherapy!

Why is a proper assessment important?

Simply put, the regulatory body of Physiotherapists in Ontario requires all physiotherapy services to be started with an assessment. It allows the practitioner to understand your problem, and it sets the stage for the course of treatment that will follow! But, more importantly, YOU need to make sure that you feel heard and understood, and your physiotherapist needs to know what is wrong in order to fix it!

So, to make sure you are starting your physiotherapy journey off on the right foot, your assessment should include the following critical pieces:

5 Essential components of a physiotherapy assessment

  1. History taking – this injury and others!

Believe it or not, what you tell us plays as big of a role in diagnosis as the actual physical testing we do! How did you hurt yourself? What makes it worse? Better? Have you injured yourself before, and NOT just in the same area!

There are many questions your therapist should be asking you, not only about this injury, but all other relevant past injuries and medical history!

  1. Physical testing – functional and focused!

First things first we need to take the time to rule out anything more serious going on! We need to make sure you are in the right place for treatment!

From there, your therapist needs to establish two things:

First, what structure is causing your pain. While this may seem like it is the most important factor, it actually isn’t! Which leads to…

Second, what factors may have led to this injury! Even if it was a traumatic injury, there are likely reasons why the structure was vulnerable to breakdown or injury in the first place. If we only treat the structure that has broken down, but do not address and treat the factors that left you susceptible, the pain will likely come back. It is only a matter of time!


What does this look like? Your therapist should be testing and assessing more than just the area of pain. They will often look at whole body movements, test strength at various locations, and look at the joint mobility above and below the area of pain.

Based on both your history and the physical testing, your therapist will form their working diagnosis.

Knee Ligament testing IG Post (

What is a physiotherapist courtesy of PhysioPlus Health Group

  1. Learning about your injury! 

Not too long ago my sister went to a physiotherapist for some neck pain she was having. She called me after leaving the assessment, telling me she felt much better. But when I asked her what they had said the problem was, she responded “they didn’t”!

Your physiotherapist taking the time to educate you about your injury is one of the most important pieces of the assessment. Not only should you walk away knowing what is wrong, but knowing what bad habits may have led to this condition. You need to know what NOT to do to make the pain/injury worse. And, what you SHOULD be doing to make the injury feel better!

Do you need to change your desk setup? Should you be icing or heating? What activity can you keep doing, and what activity do you need to take a break from? How long will it take to get better?


All these important questions need to be answered, and will play a BIG role in you starting to feel better in the days following your assessment!

  1. Treatment – Time to Feel Better!

Once your therapist knows what is going on, they should be able to apply some treatment that will help you start to feel better! However, this is not always the case! Depending on the condition, some treatment may feel painful at the time, however provide you relief in the long run!

Regardless, your therapist should try to relieve any discomfort that the assessment itself may have caused!

  1. A plan moving forward!

You are leaving the assessment knowing what is wrong, and what you need to do to help yourself feels better. You received some treatment and finally have some relief!

So what now….

You should be leaving the assessment knowing what the plan is for the following weeks, and exactly how the therapist is planning on helping you feel better.

 It is on you too! The plan should outline not only what the therapist will do, but also what you are going to need to be doing on your own to feel better! This not only helps you understand why you are booking follow-up appointments, but helps you set your expectations and plan for when you will be returning to your normal activity level!

See below for an example Plan of Care!

A great assessment will lead to great treatment! Making sure you are getting the most out of your physiotherapy assessment, and that it includes all the key components listed above!

If you are concerned about the quality of the physiotherapy services that you are receiving, call the clinic to book a free discovery call with one of our therapists. They can chat with you about the care you are receiving, and let you know if it is the gold standard!

Top 4 times physios recommend heat courtesy of PhysioPlus Health Group


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

A physiotherapist is an expert in injuries of muscles, joints, bones and nerves. They use their skill set to treat patients with hands on manual therapy and massage, personalized exercises, education, and in certain incidences, modalities.

A physiotherapy assessment is important for the therapist to investigate your injury/condition, diagnose the problem, highlight the contributing factors, and provide education, treatment, and a plan!

About Sarah DeBoer

Physioplus Health Group Toronto Physiotherapy Sarah Deboer

Sarah is a Registered Physiotherapist in good standing with the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario. She completed her Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology at the University of Western Ontario in 2015, and her Master’s of Science in Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto in 2017. She is a member of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association and member of the Orthopaedic Division.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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