What is a physical therapist and when should I see one?

Physical therapists are licensed health care professionals with a Master’s Degree or Doctorate degree in Physical Therapy. We are experts in problems with the muscles and joints of the body from head to toe. We are also movement specialists, trained to identify abnormalities that can cause pain and dysfunctions in the body.

You should seek physical therapy care if you are experiencing ongoing pain in your body like muscle pain, joint pain, decreased range of motion, or other musculoskeletal problems. You should also see a physical therapist if you have had an injury, like an ankle sprain or a pulled muscle. It is also important to consult a physical therapist prior to beginning an exercise program, especially if you have had muscle or joint pain in the past.

Do I need a referral or prescription from my physician?

A referral is not always needed to see a physical therapist. Since Colorado is a Direct Access state, a patient may seek the care of a physical therapist without having a prescription from their physician. However, some insurance companies require a physician prescription in order for them to cover your physical therapy appointment. It is important to contact your insurance company to learn more information about their coverage.

What is “Direct Access”?

Direct Access means that a patient may go directly to a licensed physical therapist for health care without first seeing a physician. Legislation was passed in 1988 making Colorado a Direct Access state. Now 48 states and the District of Columbia allow some level of treatment by a physical therapist without the prescription from a physician. A physical therapist is well qualified to evaluate and treat patients to determine the need for physical therapy. They will also determine if additional interventions are needed from a physician and refer a patient for.

The advantages to Direct Access are:

  • Reduced Healthcare Cost
  • Allows for Prompt Attention and Service
  • Ability to Choose Your Physical Therapy Provider
  • Referral Not Required

-American Physical Therapy Association

My physician referred me to another physical therapy practice. Do I have to go there?

You have the freedom to choose your own physical therapist. Even if a physician writes a prescription to go to another clinic, or would like you to see a physical therapist in his office, you are not obligated to do so. Every patient has right to pick your own physical therapist just as you have the right to pick your primary care physician, dentist, or opthamologist.

What should I bring to my first appointment?

Please bring your ID, insurance card, and physician prescription (if you have one). Also remember to wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing for your appointment. Keep in mind, you may want to bring shorts if we are seeing you for your foot or knee. Arrive 15 minutes early to fill out any necessary paperwork, or download and print the paperwork to bring with you.

What should I expect from my first physical therapy visit?

The first visit to a physical therapist is the evaluation. This is when the therapist will first ask questions about your condition or injury and inquire about your medical history. They will also do a thorough physical examination to determine the cause of your injury. They will check muscle strength, range of motion, movements, posture, and flexibility in order to develop a personalized plan of care to meet your goals. At the end of the examination, they will explain what they found, educate you on the plan of care, and typically teach you 2-4 exercises to begin at home.

What are my payment options?

Typically we will bill your insurance company and you will owe a copay for your visit. Our front desk will check your insurance benefits and explain them on your first visit. Payment is required at the time of service and we will accept cash, check, MasterCard and Visa. If you do not have insurance or if you have a high co-pay for each visit, we have an affordable private pay option as well. Please call us if you would like to learn about the details of our private pay option.

If you have additional questions or if you would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us today.