Direct Access to Physical Therapy Speeds Recovery
Patients get better, faster thanks to state policies enabling direct access to physical therapists Direct access, which is also known as self-referral, refers to the ability that a patient can be evaluated and treated by a physical therapist of their choice without the need for a referral or prescription from a doctor. Historically, in the United States, each state’s practice act mandated that for physical therapy services to be granted by insurance, a referral from a licensed physician, such as an orthopedist, podiatrist, etc., would be needed first. However, the tides are changing, and in some states, to include New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) along with their statewide associations have lobbied successfully to help change the law to allow patients direct access to physical therapy services. By allowing direct access within New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, physical therapists within these states are now recognized as a top choice when it comes to choosing a healthcare professional to manage musculoskeletal and movement disorders in all patient populations.
How Does Direct Access Benefit You?
Direct access to a physical therapist, whom specialize in musculoskeletal and movement disorders, can put you on an accelerated road to recovery by allowing you to begin a treatment plan right away. Often, we find that patient access to treatment and rehabilitation can be delayed by a week or more depending on how long it takes for them to be seen by their doctor and gain access to a referral. This delayed access allows for pain and stiffness to set in or further damage to occur which will only lengthen one’s road to recovery. Additionally, we all are aware that healthcare can be expensive. Therefore, the quicker one can get evaluated and begin their course of treatment will result in decreased time and money being spent on getting back the life they love.
Should I Still See my Doctor?
As mentioned above, physical therapists are trained and experienced to handle musculoskeletal disorders, which are injuries and disorders that affect the human body’s movement or musculoskeletal system (i.e. muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, and other supporting structures). A few common examples include, ligament sprains, muscle or tendon strains, tendonitis and nerve compression disorders. For injuries that may fall outside of this scope or need more invasive medical treatment, physical therapists are also trained to recognize when further medical attention is needed. If a referral is necessary, this finding will be discussed with the patient along with a discussion about the appropriate medical professional that a follow up is needed with.
It should also be noted that many states have rules and regulations built into the legislation that governs direct access and the practice of physical therapy. For example, some states to include New York, allow direct access only to physical therapists who have been practicing for three years or more. Other states allow a certain time frame, such as New Jersey which allows for 30 days, or number of physical therapy visits before a doctor referral is necessary to continue.
Don’t Delay! Come in Today.
If something is bothering you, why wait when you may have the freedom to visit a physical therapist and begin your treatment plan. Physical therapists are well-qualified, both through formal education and clinical training, to evaluate a patient’s condition, assess their physical therapy needs and, if appropriate, safely and effectively treat the patient. When deciding what the right course of action is for you please remember that not all states allow direct access to physical therapy or have specific guidelines that must be followed.
If you are unsure if physical therapy is right for you, please contact your nearest JAG Physical Therapy to discuss your treatment options. Don’t push off that stiff neck, sore muscle, or the back pain you are experiencing. Take control of your physical health by seeing a physical therapist and begin on a treatment to Get Back the Life You Love!