What is Direct Access Physical Therapy?

Sep 13, 2023
Are you in need of physical therapy? Whether you’ve sustained an injury or you’re experiencing unexplained muscle or joint pain, you may benefit from physical therapy.

What is Direct Access Physical Therapy?

Are you in need of physical therapy? Whether you’ve sustained an injury or you’re experiencing unexplained muscle or joint pain, you may benefit from physical therapy. But who decides that physical therapy is needed, the patient or a doctor? 

In the past, only a doctor could prescribe physical therapy. You could only go to a physical therapist with a referral from a doctor. Now, in New York and a few other states, you can decide for yourself that you want to pursue physical therapy. Citizens of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire have direct access to physical therapy. 

What is direct access physical therapy? Find out what it is and how to proceed. 

How can I pursue direct access physical therapy?

Now that you don’t have to see a doctor first, you can contact your physical therapy center of choice and set up a consultation and evaluation. Your initial evaluation must be done by a NY licensed physical therapist with at least 3 years of experience. If the evaluating physical therapist deems it necessary, services can be provided to you through that facility. 

Will direct access help me get treatment faster?

Most likely, yes. You can skip the first step that used to involve making an appointment with your doctor to get a referral. Now you can schedule an appointment directly with the physical therapist you wish to see, allowing you to be evaluated at the earliest possible appointment the PT center has available. This allows you to get the help you need much faster. You can start the healing and recovery process and get relief from your pain sooner than you would if you had to wait for an appointment with a doctor first. 

Will my insurance still cover physical therapy if I go the direct access route?

In many cases, yes, but that is a question for your medical insurance provider. Contact them and find out what is required to see a physical therapist in order for treatment to be covered to the furthest extent possible. Some insurance companies may have a list of approved physical therapists that you can go to for direct access in order to have your treatment covered by your insurance plan. 

Can I save money by going with direct access physical therapy?

Going directly to a physical therapist can save you money. If you have to make an appointment with your doctor first, you will most likely have to pay them a copay just to get the referral in the first place. Your insurance provider will also have to pay their part of the referral visit, so it is in both parties’ best interest to pursue direct access. 

Who is eligible for direct access physical therapy?

Any citizen of New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Massachusetts is eligible for direct access physical therapy according to the specific laws of their state. Any person residing in any of these states who has a medical condition that would be improved with the help of physical therapy is eligible for an evaluation. It is necessary following the evaluation for the physical therapist to approve treatment in order for a patient to be eligible. 

Are there any limitations?

New York has a policy of 30 days or 10 visits without a referral. After this initial time period, a physician does have to write a referral if further treatment is needed. 

What types of physical therapy are approved for direct access?

There are no limitations to the type of physical therapy you can pursue via direct access. Physical therapy for fingers, lower back, shoulder, knee, neck, hip, and more are directly accessible from any qualified center offering the type of therapy you need. 

Get Direct Access to Manhattan Physical Therapy 

If you’re looking for a direct access center, Manhattan Physical Therapy is qualified to accept patients without a physician’s referral. We meet the requirements for the state of New York as a direct access physical therapy center. 

Call (212) 213-3480 or contact us today to schedule a consultation and evaluation. We look forward to helping you get started on the road to recovery faster than you thought possible.