Frequently Asked Questions
Breathing is literally the only motor task that all living humans share. Your body is naturally designed to breathe well, but it can also adopt bad habits. Just like limping after a leg injury leads to problems elsewhere in the body, breathing with accessory muscles or maladaptive patterns uses valuable energy inefficiently and ineffectively, robbing us twice of optimal functional ability. The result is people with chronic pain, early fatigue, anxiety, decreased activity tolerance, reduced performance and endurance, incontinence, bowel dysfunction, poor sleep quality, stress and an overall decrease in quality of life.
How do I improve my breathing?
By working with your therapist and doing your homework.
Will I have more energy if my breathing improves?
Imagine your body's available energy like a bank account. Your breathing isn't supposed to cost you very much when working properly. Over time though, you can develop movement patterns that increase the cost of doing business of living your everyday life. When breathing is truly difficult, it takes all the energy you have just to make it through the day—just ask anybody with COPD. When you improve how you breathe, you drastically cut the cost of business, saving all that valuable energy for the rest of your muscles and systems to use for function. When operating optimally, incredible changes can be achieved in the human-powered machine that supports our respiration. As breathing improves, chronic problems begin to be more manageable and often abate completely.
What if my condition is chronic?
We understand chronic. Academy West helps to put the big picture together from a functional standpoint using a multi-system analysis. The perspective of a physical therapist is unique in the medical community, trained to understand how the different parts of the body work together. A multi-system body analysis helps to identify where things are working less efficiently and how that impacts you. More complicated conditions require various specialties, but understanding how those specialties tie in to one another is exactly what an ICU therapist is trained to do. Academy West is built on the principle that no breathing problem is too deep-rooted or far gone to gain improvement.
Because you are here to learn. A good physical therapist is an educator, and in order to improve your breathing you have to learn with both your brain and your body. We make sure that you understand your breathing and why it isn't working. Our hands-on approach teaches your body how to move, and we take the time to explain things so that you can build on that improvement when you leave. Being a part of Academy West means arming each person with knowledge about how your body works to meet your functional needs.
Can you describe my first session?
You will be in a private treatment space, one-on-one with your physical therapist, though a family member is also welcome and encouraged to attend. We perform a thorough review of your history including a discussion of medical and surgical history, sleep, stress, pain, and activity levels. We discuss your goals and answer any questions you have. After all that talking, we will use mirrors and video to assess your current breathing mechanics. We then move back and forth between teaching and re-examining your breathing to understand where you are having problems. You and your therapist will work together to develop a treatment plan that works for your life. Exams are extremely thorough and may take longer when the nature of your pathology is multifactorial and or chronic, or if you have a tendency to ask questions and be curious.
What are your hours?
Adaptability has never been more important than right now. Academy West offers a variety of appointment settings including home visits, telehealth, and office visits. We offer patient self-scheduling which allows you to easily pick a time and date from the comfort of your computer.
How many visits will I need before I improve?
Without an evaluation, this is impossible to answer.
Do I need a prescription from my doctor?
No, but it helps. Oregon is an unrestricted Direct Access state for physical therapy, which means patients are allowed to seek evaluation and treatment from any licensed physical therapist without a prescription or referral from a physician. However, if you plan on seeking insurance reimbursement, your insurance provider may require a physician's referral, which you are more than welcome to obtain. You may also choose to self-refer to Academy West. When your evaluation is completed, your therapist can, at your request, send a Letter of Medical Necessity to your physician. Once signed, this acts as a prescription for physical therapy and can be submitted to your insurance. You can also complete this insurance benefits checklist to find out if your insurance requires a prescription or referral and choose to obtain one prior to your first visit.
How long are appointments?
The initial evaluation will last 60-90 minutes. This is the time that is reserved for you. Please come with your forms completed, which will be emailed to you ahead of time or printed off our website. If you need to fill the forms out when you arrive, this will take away from your evaluation and treatment time.
What is the cost?
At Academy West, we feel it is important to be as up-front as possible about our fee structure, which is simple and based on type and length of treatment. Each patient is evaluated and then assessed.
Do you take insurance?
Yes and no.
What about Medicare?
We get this question a lot, and are happy to have a conversation to help answer.
How do physical therapy and performance training differ?
What about COVID-19?
COVID-19 has changed the way that society values breathing, and it has never been more important. You might be experiencing symptoms from past infection or increased anxiety during the pandemic. Or maybe you're simply training and strengthening the muscles that support your breathing. Academy West is committed to providing care in a safe environment that fits your needs. We are available for in-clinic and home visits with strict safety standards, as well as virtual telehealth sessions. Masks are required to enter our clinic but will be removed at times to effectively evaluate breathing. All family members accompanying patients are required to wear masks.