Physical therapy is a healthcare profession concerned with evaluation and treatment of decreased functional ability, mobility dysfunction, and decreased quality of life. Physical therapy in an outpatient orthopedic setting commonly involves treatment of musculoskeletal injuries including muscular strains and ligament sprains, joint replacements, and post-surgical care to improve range of motion, increase strength, and decrease pain to improve function and quality of life. Physical therapists also work in many other areas and have knowledge of amputation management, spinal cord injury, stroke, brain injury, wheelchair assessment, lymphedema, cardiovascular conditions, and pediatric developmental delays.
A fact that a lot of people don’t realize is that for many insurance carriers, the patient doesn’t need a referral to see a physical therapist. Most of the private insurance companies do not require a referral whereas insurance carriers like Tricare and Medicare do require a script.
Treatments typically last around 45 minutes and may include stretches, strengthening, manual work, and modalities, such as electrical stimulation or ultrasound, depending on the condition being treated. While there can be times during treatment that are challenging or painful, most patients are pleasantly surprised at how painless and effective physical therapy can be.