Self Care Sunday: Understanding how to access and get more out of physical therapy.

Physical Therapy is a field of healthcare where providers facilitate function restoration, educate on and provide alternative options for pain management, provide hope to those that lost it, help patients/clients reach their movement goals after injury, and link arms with other healthcare providers in an effort to maximize outcomes.

Prior to the early 2000's, physical therapy was traditionally accessed only by a physician's referral. As a result of a push by the profession, healthcare consumers can now seek a physical therapist's(PT) services directly. This means that if you're dealing with an injury that can be addressed by a physical therapist, you can call a clinic and schedule an evaluation without seeing a physician first.

When you arrive for your initial evaluation, you will meet with a physical therapist who will also screen to see if physical therapy is appropriate or if the method in which you are seeking services are appropriate (i.e virtual vs in-person). If your case is not appropriate for physical therapy, the PT will refer you to a provider skilled in the area of your need(s). Like any other profession, all providers are not created equal. To ensure appropriate screening, I always encourage my family and friends to ask questions.

A great question to ask during the evaluation: "Is my condition/injury appropriate for physical therapy".

This will give the provider the opportunity to reassure you or to reflect on your case and determine if, in fact, your case is appropriate for their services or the service's mode of delivery.


I also recommend patients ask questions about billing and financials prior to consenting to complete the full plan of care. Health consumers should be involved in the decision making process in terms of frequency and duration especially as if affects finances. As part of the initial evaluation, the therapist will create a plan of care that outlines the type of services, frequency and duration of treatment.

The price of physical therapy services may be visit based if paying cash or there may be a different price tag for each services provided during a single treatment session. This can cause variation in prices per session.

For example, if you have a 1 hour session with your provider, you may be charged for time based services including: manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, Neuromuscular re-education, or a time based modality like ultrasound. Each of these services may have a different price tag and can cause your balance after each appointment to differ. For cash based services, healthcare consumers can generally expect to pay the same fee every session.

Understanding the fee schedule or session rate for physical therapy well help you and your therapist create a plan of care that addresses your needs and personal concerns like finances.


The plan of care created during the initial evaluation will detail the type of services you will benefit from and the length of time it should take to reach your goals. It is important to note that in session treatments will not outweigh out of session behavior. It is very important to adhere to the treatment plan which includes a home exercise program and possibly activity modifications.

When you're compliant with the home exercises program (HEP), it's easier to give feedback about progression. If you're consistent and not seeing results, you can report that to your provider for him/her to modify the plan or refer if needed. If you are referred to another provider, he/she can utilize the information and notes from physical therapy to aid in their decision making process regarding the next step. In contrast, if you're not compliant with the HEP it's hard to conclude if the treatment plan is effective.

In summary, ask more questions, understand the billing process, and always give honest feedback about how you're progressing. This will give you and the healthcare provider more information to make better healthcare decisions.

And this my friend.... is FREE GAME

Go forth Adapt Army and conquer the healthcare world.

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