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Direct Access to Physical Therapy

Direct Access to Physical Therapy

In New York State, like most states, people can access physical therapy services directly without the need for physician referral. There are several advantages to direct access.  There is a growing body of evidence that physical therapy direct access can be part of the solution to the high costs and inefficiencies of our current health care system.

First, a more direct route to the physical therapist reduces the time between an injury, or the onset of a problem, and appropriate treatment. This in turn can shorten the recovery time.

Second, seeing a physical therapist in the early phase of an orthopedic problem has been shown to decrease the need for diagnostic imaging and medications. Thus, the patient assumes less risk and there are fewer medical expenses.

Third, the outcomes of care, including improvement in function and decrease in pain, are better when patients seek care directly with the physical therapist versus through physician referral.

Finally, health care costs are lower overall when patients come to physical therapists through direct access. This is related to everything above…problems are taken care of more quickly; there are fewer unnecessary medical tests, fewer drugs, and better outcomes.

So if you develop an orthopedic problem, consider going to see your physical therapist for a thorough evaluation - first.   

Marcia Miller Spoto, PT, DC, OCS

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