Direct Access to Physical Therapy

By Ehren Allen, DPT, COMT

Direct Access to Physical Therapy

Direct access to physical therapy means that patients can see a physical therapist without a prescription from a physician. This allows patients with pain or movement issues to begin conservative care for injuries, aches and pains quicker.

Image of a physical therapist working with a female patient with direct access to physical therapy

How Does Direct Access Physical Therapy Work?

With direct access physical therapy, patients can contact 1 of the 12 JOI Rehab Centers in Northeast FL, and schedule an evaluation with a highly trained physical therapist, even if they have not seen a doctor. JOI Rehab can typically see patients within 1 business day of contacting the office.

Do I Have To See A Doctor Before I See a Physical Therapist?

In most states, including Florida, you can see a physical therapist without seeing a doctor first. In Florida, you can receive physical therapy for 30 days without a physician visit. If physical therapy care is required beyond 30 days, a physician must be consulted to certify the need for continued care. (There may be some insurance limitations)

Is A Physical Therapist Qualified to Evaluate My Injury?

A licensed physical therapist is qualified to evaluate patients with injuries and various physical symptoms. The American Physical Therapy Association promotes higher levels of education for clinicians. Since 2004, all physical therapists entering the profession are required to earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree.

Physical therapists are qualified to be the initial evaluators for patients with injuries or physical impairments. Physical therapists are required to refer patients to a physician if the findings are outside the scope of physical therapy.

Can a Physical Therapist Order X-rays or MRIs?

In the state of Florida, physical therapists do not order X-rays or MRIs. But, many insurance companies do not authorize these forms of advanced imaging unless physical therapy has been attempted first.

Physical therapists are highly trained to screen for “Red Flags” that suggest concerns that require a medical referral. If the physical therapist finds concerns that suggest the need for advanced imaging or medical referral, they must refer the patient to a physician for further evaluation. The physician will order the imaging and tests needed.

Can a Physical Therapist Order Medications?

No, physical therapists do not order medications. However, physical therapists will review your medications and identify any concerns to your doctor.

Does My Insurance Cover Direct Access to Physical Therapy?

In most cases, health insurance covers direct access physical therapy. Patient’s with Medicare or Federal Insurance Carriers must still obtain a prescription for physical therapy from a doctor first. If pre-authorization is required for your insurance coverage, a physician may need to write a referral for physical therapy prior to being seen.

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Will Direct Access to Physical Therapy Save Me Money?

For many, the answer is yes. A study in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy showed that a hospital system that placed physical therapy as the first line of treatment for patients with back pain had significantly lower average overall cost of patient care.

Starting with a physical therapist may limit the need for advanced imaging, advanced medical interventions and surgery. It may also limit disability.

What is the Benefit of Direct Access to Physical Therapy at JOI Rehab?

Direct access physical therapy at JOI Rehab give you immediate access to the top rehabilitation team in Northeast FL.  The physical therapists at JOI Rehab work directly with orthopedic doctors of the Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute.  Direct access to Physical Therapy gives you access to all aspects of the JOI, the most respected name in Orthopedics. If needed, our physical therapists will connect you with a top orthopedic specialist. Our team approach gives you the best possible outcomes with a continuum of care in all levels.

To learn more about physical therapy, please read, Why Should I Go To Physical Therapy? 

Can I Still See A JOI Doctor First?

Absolutely! JOI doctors are happy to see you, whether you start with them, or start with our physical therapists. To see a JOI Doctor, call (904)JOI-2000 or click HERE.

If you are interested in Direct Access to Physical Therapy at JOI Rehab, call 904-858-7045.  Click for JOI Rehab Contact Information.

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