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A physical therapist instructing a patient on an exercise over the computer.

You or a loved one may need or want to take advantage of today's technology to receive physical therapy remotely. The American Physical Therapy Association understands that digital health care technology can be exciting and confusing. Your physical therapist and physical therapist assistant are committed to providing you with optimal care in any format, whether in person, remotely, or through a combination of the two, known as hybrid care.

Here are answers to frequently asked questions about remote care in physical therapy.

What are telehealth, telerehabilitation, and digital health?

Telehealth is the remote delivery of treatments or services using electronic information and telecommunication technologies such as a phone, computer, or other device. It allows you to engage in an actual therapy session with your physical therapist or physical therapist assistant through a real-time "face-to-face" audio-video connection.

Telerehabilitation refers specifically to physical therapist, occupational therapist, and speech therapist services delivered remotely. The term "digital health" includes telehealth and other health care technologies used to deliver care, which may or may not be done in real time. For more information about digital health in physical therapy, see our “What Is Digital Health in Physical Therapy and Is It Right for Me?” article.”

What equipment do I need for a telehealth visit?

You will need a computer or mobile device with an integrated camera and microphone for a face-to-face therapy session. You will also need a good internet connection to stream video.

What conditions can I receive treatment for via telehealth?

Physical therapists use telehealth to manage a variety of conditions, including musculoskeletal conditions, chronic pain, post-surgery recovery, pelvic floor dysfunction, heart failure, respiratory disease, spinal cord injury, and neurological conditions like Parkinson disease.

What are the benefits of a telehealth visit?

Telehealth may be a good option for you for many reasons, including reduced wait time, transportation, access to a clinic, and disruption of your daily responsibilities. Talk to your physical therapist about whether telehealth, clinical visits, or a combination are right for you.

Will my insurer cover telehealth services provided by my physical therapist?

Many insurance carriers offer coverage for telehealth services furnished by physical therapists. However, you should always call your insurance company and verify what your individual policy covers.

If you are interested in telehealth, hybrid care, or other aspects of digital health care, talk to your physical therapist to see if these services are right for you. In the U.S., you do not need a referral to see a physical therapist for an evaluation and, in most cases, treatment.* You can use the American Physical Therapy Association's Find a PT tool (and select the filter for "telehealth visits available") to find a physical therapist near you who offers telehealth services.

Ask whether the physical therapist or clinic participates in your health care plan before making an appointment, or contact your health insurance company for help.

Find a PT Near You

*Insurance, corporate policies, or state laws may require a physician's referral or limit treatment scope and duration without one. Insurance policies also may limit you to in-network providers.

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