Last week my colleague Dr. Anthony Falco discussed how you could see a physical therapist without having to see a doctor first. Doing so can save you a significant amount of money in your process to heal your ailments. With that being said, I want to take the time this week to touch on the importance of a strong symbiotic relationship between your physical therapist and strength trainer. A strong relationship between your physical therapist and strength trainer can not only help limit the severity of a training related injury, but can also lessen the length of time for recovery and also help correct injuries or performance inhibited by movement dysfunction.
Limiting The Severity of an Injury
One of the most common issues I have seen in the strength and conditioning field is related to lingering injuries that are never properly addressed. One of the main benefits I have seen come from sharing clients with my affiliates at Performance Physical Therapy is limiting not only the severity of an injury, but also being more efficient in recovery time. In most cases, a strength coach could further aggravate a healing ailment because they are not sure of what’s causing it. For example, a rotational athlete (such as a baseball player) could be dealing with a hip injury being caused by a misalignment of the pelvis that often comes from rotational movements such as throwing and hitting. If this athlete is either not seeing a physical therapist or that therapist isn’t in contact with their strength coach a significant furthering of that injury can occur. Instead of having a physical therapist diagnose and correct the hip alignment issue, time could be spent stretching what feels like a “tight,” hip flexor which will further exacerbate the injury. Working alongside a physical therapist cannot only limit the severity of an injury, but also decrease the amount of time spent recovering from a particular injury.
Limiting Injury/Maximizing Performance Via Correcting Movement Dysfunction
Another benefit I have seen from working alongside a physical therapist lies in preventing injuries before they occur or even improving sports performance via correcting movement issues. One of the biggest responsibilities of a strength coach relates to improving the movements of athletes and general clients. Sharing clients with a physical therapist can help with correcting movement issues related to particular muscular dysfunction and also help with exercises and modalities used to fix these issues.
Are your strength coach/trainer and physical therapist on the same page? Do they work together to ensure your health or nagging injuries are treated in the best way possible? If not, work with the team of Performance Physical Therapy and Challenger Strength and see how our concerted effort can best help your health and performance.
In New Jersey you have direct access to your physical therapist. This means that a physician referral or prescription is not required to see your physical therapist. If you have back pain after shoveling the driveway or a stiff neck from sleeping on a different mattress while traveling, you can come in to see your physical therapist without having to go see your doctor. In addition to painful conditions if you want to improve your balance, improve your range of motion and strength, or start a new exercise program your physical therapist can help with that too!
Being able to come see your physical therapist directly has multiple benefits. The first benefit is decreased time to starting care for your condition. Often with painful conditions the sooner you get into physical therapy the easier it is to resolve the symptoms and eliminate the pain. When symptoms become chronic it can take longer for all forms of treatment to help decrease those symptoms. Second, by seeing your physical therapist first you can choose conservative, non-pharmacologic care as the first treatment for your condition. The opioid crisis is real and all medications carry some risk of side-effects. Physical therapy is an extremely safe option to treat pain. Third, if a physical therapist thinks you need further evaluation is required, we have great relationships with the best doctors in the area and can connect you with the right physician for your problem-generally without a long wait!. Finally seeing your physical therapist directly can save you time and money. By getting PT first you can avoid having to schedule a visit and wait at the doctor’s office, pay a doctor’s co-pay or deductible just for the doctor to send you to your physical therapy anyway.
Physical therapists are experts in the neurological and musculoskeletal systems. We are trained to screen patients that are appropriate for physical therapy treatment and how to identify patterns of signs and symptoms that warrant further medical attention.
Will my insurance cover my care without a referral from my doctor?
Every insurance company is different. Many major plans will pay for physical therapy without a referral. When scheduling your first visit at our offices we will take your insurance information and verify your benefits to determine what your responsibility is and if your insurance company will require a referral or prescription from your doctor.
The direct access physical therapy law in New Jersey:
The direct access law in New Jersey states that patients can see their physical therapist without a referral. It also states that at 30 days from the start of care, the patients doctor should be updated regarding the plan of care, or if the patient is not making reasonable progress that the patient be referred back to their doctor. The law also states that during the initial evaluation if the physical therapist feels that patient is not appropriate for physical therapy treatment or further testing is required (x-ray, MRI, or blood work as examples) the physical therapist will refer to patient to the appropriate healthcare provider.
Dr. Anthony Falco
Gerry DeFilippo: ISSA CPT- CPPS, AAPS. Founder/Owner: Challenger Strength.