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Choosing a Physical Therapist

You are the most important member of your own health care team and are entitled to choose the most appropriate health care professional to meet your goals. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has provided the following guidelines for choosing a physical therapist for your care.

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You have the freedom to choose your own physical therapist. Residents in New York can go directly to a physical therapist without a physician's referral first.

Keep in mind that your insurance policy may require a visit to the primary care physician first or limit your access to only preferred providers.

Your physician may refer you for physical therapy that is to be provided in his or her office or to a facility in which he or she has a financial interest. If either situation is the case, insist that your physical therapy be provided by a licensed physical therapist.


How To Choose A Physical Therapist

Make sure that you receive physical therapy from a licensed physical therapist. Physical therapists are professional health care provided who are licensed by the state in which they practice. If you are receiving physical therapy from a physical therapist assistant, be sure that he or she is supervised by a licensed physical therapist.

Ask the physical therapy clinic if they participate with your insurance company and/or will they submit claims on your behalf to your insurance company. Some policies require co-payments for services and the co-payment will be dependent on if the physical therapist is part of the insurer's provider network. You will also have to meet your deductible.


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Your Appointment

Your first visit should include an evaluation by the physical therapist. Your physical therapist will perform an examination to identify current and potential problems. Based on the results of the examination, and considering your specific goals, your physical therapist will design a plan of care to include specific interventions and will propose a timetable to achieve these goals and optimize your function. Your physical therapist will likely provide you with instructions to perform exercises at home to facilitate your recovery.

You should feel comfortable asking your physical therapist any questions regarding your course of care, including specifics regarding interventions and expectations.


More About Physical Therapists

Physical Therapists (PTs) are health care professional who diagnose and treat people of all ages who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.

PTs must have a graduate degree from an accredited physical therapy program before taking the national licensure examination. The minimum educational requirement is a master's degree, yet most educational programs now offer the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree.

Physical therapists practice in hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing facilities, homes, education or research centers, schools, hospices, corporate or industrial health centers, athletic facilities, and other settings.







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