Direct Access: Seeking Physical Therapy First
Below is a typical conversation we have with potential patients more frequently than we would like:
Person who needs physical therapy: I have knee pain, I need to go see my doctor.
Me (as a physical therapist): Well have you thought about trying physical therapy for your pain?
Person who needs physical therapy: Well, maybe but I don't really know how physical therapy would help and I need my doctor to refer me, right?
Me (as a physical therapist): No, actually you can come to therapy without a prescription or referral. Connecticut is a direct access state, meaning you do not have to go to your doctor first.
Person who needs physical therapy: REALLY?!? I had no idea!
That is right! I repeat, as a patient you are not required to go to your doctor for a physical therapy prescription. You can initiate a course of care with any physical therapy clinic you choose without a referral from your doctor. Now, we believe all health care professionals are important and integral to you receiving proper treatment, but direct access does have its benefits.
Physical therapists are movement specialists & we are well educated.
We have a post baccalaureate degree, and some of us also have advanced certifications. We heavily base our treatment practices on the newest evidence based research. Evolving with technology as well as proven science is a foundation pillar on which the physical therapy profession sits. We are able to assess your joint biomechanics and kinetic chain to determine where your impairments are which are leading to your resultant functional limitations and participation restrictions.
I, and I will generalize the majority of the physical therapy profession, love learning and progressing my knowledge. I have a desire to better my skills to allow for better patient relations as well as improved and desirable outcomes.
We are not all encompassing healthcare professionals, although we work in an interdisciplinary fashion. We have a scope of practice and are able to screen and refer out to appropriate professionals when needed. Rest assured, that if you use direct access, you will not be treated by a physical therapist unless your clinical presentation fits the needs of the profession. We screen and examine you thoroughly.
Direct Access allows for efficient use of healthcare
There are times when further testing will be ordered by your primary doctor, however, a lot of times, you are just referred to physical therapy from your doctor. This delays your start of physical therapy, and quite frankly adds to healthcare costs and overall inefficiency of providing timely care. Who wants to live in pain longer than they have to??
Again, starting physical therapy through direct access can allow you to efficiently use your time and start seeing improvement in your symptoms. Remember, we will refer you to your doctor if your symptoms are outside of our scope of practice or progress has been limited.
Direct Access allows for quicker recovery
It is simple. Starting physical therapy sooner = feeling better sooner. (Win for you!)
Direct access allows for relationship building
Seeking treatment from your physical therapist will allow you to build a trusting relationship with him or her. Seeing that he/she is able to evaluate and treat you appropriately without doctor order, will instill confidence in you to think of him/her as a preferred and trusted healthcare provider. A positive relationship and outcome should allow for a long term physical therapist-patient relationship to be developed, should future questions or physical therapy needs arise. (Win for you again AND a win for us!) We are lifelong providers, NOT single course of care providers.
We want you to be healthy!
As a physical therapist, of course I feel we can aid people back to maximal function with reduced pain and improved quality of life, however why is it that we have to wait until a person is experiencing pain to build a relationship with him or her?
Physical Therapists can build relationships with the community, aiding in the health and wellness of the general population BEFORE pain begins.
Next time you have pain, or even just a simple question, think PHYSICAL THERAPY FIRST.
Our goal as physical therapists is to aid in the reduction of people living with acute and chronic pain. Not only do we wish to provide exceptional care, but we want to see our community be a healthier place. A step in this direction is utilizing what direct access has to offer: Build a relationship with your chosen physical therapist!
Click Here to begin your direct access journey with a FREE consult!