Physical therapists are experts in movement, qualified to examine patients and develop treatment plans to improve mobility, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent injury. Treatment may include manual therapy techniques, various exercise strategies and patient education.
After a rigorous three-year graduate program with a curriculum heavily focused on the sciences, therapists must pass the National Physical Therapy Exam and a licensing exam for their state of practice. Some therapists continue in residency and fellowship programs or become board-certified in a specialty such as Orthopedics, Neurology, or Pediatrics. Physical therapists are the healthcare practitioners with the most specialized education to help people improve motion and restore function.
Physical therapists are lifelong learners. As part of requirements for licensure, they are required to earn continuing education credits by taking additional physical therapy coursework annually, throughout their career.
While many physical therapists are clinicians in hospital-based facilities or outpatient clinics, others focus on performing research to support physical therapy evaluation and treatment techniques. The field of research in physical therapy continues to grow, providing healthcare practitioners a better understanding of the value of physical therapy.
Some states have Direct Access, the ability to see a physical therapist for an examination and treatment without first seeing a physician. Beginning January 1, 2014 patients in the California have Direct Access to see a physical therapist for 12 visits or 45 days before needing to see a physician if further care is needed.
In some states, patients cannot receive treatment from a physical therapist without a prescription or referral of a physician according to state law. This requirement doesn’t acknowledge the extensive training, education and expertise of the licensed physical therapist and it limits the rights of patients.
However, California allows direct access to physical therapy services or “self referral”. This allows patients to be evaluated and treated by a licensed physical therapist without first seeing a physician for a prescription. Direct access saves you time and money, expediting your treatment, relief, and recovery.
Direct Access is described in depth by the American Physical Therapy Association as follows:
What does patient access to physical therapists’ services without referral mean and why is it needed?
Patient access to physical therapists’ services without referral means the removal of the physician referral mandated by state law to access physical therapists’ services. Thirty-eight (38) states have granted consumers the freedom to seek physical therapy treatment without a referral. Currently, a referral is required by state law to initiate treatment by a licensed physical therapist in 12 states.
Are physical therapists qualified to deliver physical therapists’ services independent of referral?
Absolutely. Physical therapists are educated at the post-baccalaureate level and receive extensive education and clinical training in the examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention of patient/clients with functional limitations, impairments and disabilities. Beginning January 1, 2002 all physical therapy programs will be required to be accredited at the masters level. Physical therapists are qualified to recognize when a patient presents with signs and symptoms inconsistent or outside the scope and expertise of the physical therapist and when the patient should be referred to a physician. APTA’s Guide of Professional Conduct advocates that physical therapists should assist patients in receiving appropriate medical care when the physical therapists’ examination and evaluation reveals signs and symptoms inconsistent with a condition that can be appropriately treated with physical therapy or needs a physician’s care and expertise.
Liability insurers and the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy affirm that physical therapists’ services provided without referral does not jeopardize the health, safety, or welfare of the patient/clients seeking physical therapists’ care and services without referral. Health Providers Service Organization (HPSO), the leading liability insurer of physical therapists in the United States, states in a March 22, 2001 letter, “that direct access is not a risk factor that we specifically screen for in our program because it has not negatively impacted our claims experience in any way. In addition, we do not have a premium differential for physical therapists in direct access states.”
Active Marin Physical Therapy accepts and provides billing for most all PPO insurance groups and Medicare. Please contact our office to inquire about your specific insurance physical therapy benefits.
During your initial evaluation, a physical therapist will conduct a whole-body movement assessment that will include tests of strength, flexibility, and an observation of functional movements that you complete on a daily basis. Based on the findings and keeping your goals in mind, the therapist will identify the source of your dysfunction or pain and design an individualized plan of care for symptom relief and to address the origin of your concerns. While the majority of your initial evaluation will be spent collecting information and assessing your current physical presentation, your therapist will provide information and one to two exercises to get you started on your path to wellness.
What to bring to your initial evaluation:
- Patient Intake Forms can be completed prior to your appointment (or come 15 minutes early to your appointment)
- Insurance referral (if needed per your insurance policy) – please call your primary care physician to have an insurance referral faxed to our facility.
- Photo ID, Health Insurance Card, and Co-Payment (if applicable)
- Comfortable clothes and athletic shoes (and any inserts if applicable)
Individualized attention does not stop at your evaluation. Active Marin’s treatment focuses on patient satisfaction and the highest quality of care possible. Treatment sessions last 45 to 60 minutes, longer than the average physical therapy clinic. We don’t utilize physical therapy aides and do not believe in double booking or treating multiple patients simultaneously. We value placing the tools for improvement in your hands. You will leave each PT treatment session with an updated home exercise program (HEP).