Do I Need a Prescription for Physical Therapy? – Direct Access

  • Home
  • Blogs
  • Do I Need a Prescription for Physical Therapy? – Direct Access
bg shape 3
May 19, 2021
Do I Need a Prescription for Physical Therapy? – Direct Access

This is a question we receive from many patients here at Strive Physical Therapy. A common occurrence is that many injured patients will typically go to their physicians when they experience pain or discomfort. The doctor will provide the patient with suggestions to improve symptoms before giving them a prescription for physical therapy. What if you could go right to physical therapy without waiting for that doctor visit and prescription? Here is where “Direct Access” can help you achieve faster results.


Al Desiderio, Physical Therapist in our Moorestown location, can agree that one of the most frequently asked questions about physical therapy is a need for a script prior to coming in. It is also a common misconception that a script from a physician is required before coming to physical therapy. Al has been with StrivePT for 3.5 years and was able to answer some questions about ‘direct access’ for us.


What is Direct Access?

As per APTA guidelines, direct access PT means “allowing patients to seek some level of treatment from a licensed physical therapist with no referral or a prescription from a physician.” Direct access is the ability of a physical therapist to provide first-line treatment to a patient without a physician’s referral. Patients can save money by eliminating unnecessary diagnostic tests or specialist referrals. Direct access physical therapy will provide quicker treatment with very little risk of further injury. Our physical therapists are trained to recognize “red flags” that may signal referral to a doctor or specialist if necessary. Here at Strive Physical Therapy, we can get patients into our offices to help them return to their lives pain-free more quickly.


What does Direct Access mean to you as a patient?

• Immediate evaluation and treatments from your physical therapist for your condition without delay of visiting another healthcare professional

• Immediate consultation with your physical therapist to determine if therapy is needed or if further examination by another healthcare professional is warranted

Freedom to choose a physical therapist as you would a physician, chiropractor, dentist, or other healthcare provider

No extra cost to you without a prescription


When Does a Patient Require a Prescription?

There are instances when a patient is required to receive a physician’s prescription prior to physical therapy services. Also, certain insurances require a prescription prior to beginning physical therapy services. These include but are not limited to workman’s comp and motor vehicle insurance. Each state has different laws regarding direct access services, so it is best to check with your physical therapy location.


Strive PT has locations throughout New Jersey and Philadelphia

· In New Jersey, direct access allows patients to receive physical therapy with a licensed PT without a referral/prescription unless their insurance requires one.

· In Pennsylvania, a physical therapist may treat a person for up to 30 days from the date of first treatment. And shall not treat a person beyond 30 days from the date of first treatment until a referral/script is obtained.


Do I eventually need a prescription?

Per the APTA, there are instances when a patient is required to get a prescription after seeking direct access care. These instances typically require a prescription after 30 days of treatment with a physical therapist. Your physical therapist will be able to assist you with any questions or concerns. As always, if you have a musculoskeletal injury or another diagnosis you should discuss your options with your doctor or physical therapist to ensure best treatment practices.


Albert Desiderio, PT, DPT... Read Al’s bio here.


More questions about direst access? Email us directly at info@strivephysicalthearpy.com or call today 1-800-903-4142