As with most things health care related, access to physical therapy services can be a political issue. There are lobbyists from the medical community, chiropractic community, physical therapy community and others all fighting for the right to claim a particular skill set and justify protection of the general public as their primary intent.
I for one am all for protecting the public, as well as supporting each profession to have their niche modalities to promote health and wellbeing. As a provider and a patient, I believe that colleges are doing the best they can to equip providers of the future with the best education and skill set available. For those who “pass the test” but do not meet practice rigid practice standards, board exams and clinical internships weed out those who need to spend more time in academia before venturing out to heal the masses.
There are plenty of patients to go around to all of us providers out there. So, how wonderful that we all know how to heal bodies in various ways and approaches that resonate with the variety of personalities and physiology puzzles our patients bring us. So I say, lets all hug it out, collaborate on patient care, share the love and let the healing begin!
What’s The Deal With Direct Access in Virginia? and the DC METRO Area?
In the State of Virginia, you may come and see a physical therapist without a doctors prescription (MD, DO, DC, DDS or otherwise). If the therapist you see has a direct access certification, you may continue to see them for 14 business days without a prescription as well. So if you have just sprained your ankle, or want to give a few visits of PT a shot to nip that case of neck pain in the bud-this route is for you. Now the therapist with the direct access certification will be sending your exam findings to your specified primary care provider, which means that in case you need a prolonged treatment-you will be covered as long as they are comfortable signing your plan of care. This tends to be a very speedy process, if you are someone who sees their PCP once a year for a physical. If not, cough up the 30 dollar co-pay and get ‘er done! You should be thinking of prevention anyway! Get thee to the doctor asap.
If you live in Maryland or DC, you’re in luck. Pick a PT…Schedule….Get Treatment…Move On. No hoops to jump through compared to Virginia.
On A Budget? You Will Save Money If You Call Us First:
When we look at long term health care costs, the average American will save money by utilizing physical therapy resources as soon as possible. If a patient comes directly to PT, they more than likely saved one copay at the doctors office, saved money on diagnostic exams, and are in most cases able to be seen and treated within 24 hours of their call. The sooner you get in the door, the quicker we can work out any sort of impairment and dysfunction we find…the sooner you feel super-duper fantastic and ready to jump into a new and exciting active life!
Don’t I Need X-Rays??
X-rays, MRIs and the like are very valuable tools for your physician to diagnose you. They often reveal degenerative changes, arthritis, and other pathologies that aid in helping us treat your specific condition. From a PT perspective however, they are helpful but not the main thing we are looking at. We are more concerned with the FUNCTION of the body and the integration of all its parts. Films give us a great idea of what is happening when you aren’t moving and doing your daily routine, which is when most people are having pain. For example, Jim and Joe are twins. Both have oatmeal for breakfast and both have matching herniated discs in their low back. Jim has excruciating pain and sciatica, Joe is a weekend warrior who is very active and intermittently has some stiffness, but is otherwise devoid of pain. How is this possible? More likely than not-Joe has better spinal stability and alignment than Jim. Because of his active lifestyle, perhaps better posture while at work, and conscious movement and body mechanics he has kept the symptoms of his spinal boo boo at bay. Are you getting my drift here?
What if I am suffering from something more serious?
During your exam we will utilize differential diagnosis ( signs and symptoms that often have a more serious underlying diagnosis that is outside of our skill set) and will send you IMMEDIATELY to your doctor, the ER, or another specialist. FYI: PTs tend to be more on the anal retentive side-so we really do want to figure out the whole picture, and treat your body top to bottom. So more likely than not, we will make recommendations to see other practitioners so that you have a well rounded and holistic approach to your health and well being.
We Are Gatekeepers
For any of your aches and pains, consider calling us first. We will take your blood pressure, listen to your heart in addition to oodles other screening tools to make sure you are in the right place. Besides, how many doctors offices can see you within 24 hours for what would be considered a wellness visit? This way, we can send a full exam to your doc, and when you follow up with them they can get to the nitty gritty of their specialty and save you more time and moolah! Poof-everyone is happy.
We hope that sometime in the future Direct Access will be a well-known option amongst Americans; and that all States will have equal opportunities to utilize PT resources and care without restrictions.
Please call is with questions pertaining to direct access and inquire about how physical therapy is important for you and your family.
To your health,