You are the most important member of your health care team. As such, you have the right to choose the most suitable health care provider to meet your goals.
The following tips will help you choose a physical therapist.
Know Your Rights
All 50 states and Washington, D.C., allow you to see a physical therapist for an evaluation without a doctor’s referral. (Your insurance policy, however, may require a referral first. It also may limit you to in-network providers only.)
Some doctors have a financial interest in physical therapy practices. If they refer you to a physical therapist in their office, you are not required to go there. You have the right to choose any physical therapist in your state who participates in your health care plan.
How To Choose a Physical Therapist
1. Use Find a PT to locate a physical therapist near you.
You can filter search results by location and practice focus. You also can find a board-certified clinical specialist in one of several physical therapy specialties. All physical therapists in Find a PT are APTA members.
2. Contact the physical therapist's clinic to ask about services they offer.
All physical therapists are prepared through education and clinical experience to manage a variety of conditions and injuries. They may provide care in specific settings such as home, school, and outpatient clinics.
A physical therapist also may focus their practice on specific patient groups, such as:
- Older adults.
- Cancer survivors.
- Women and people with pelvic health problems.
See About PTs and PTAs to learn more about practice areas.
3. Ask if the physical therapist’s clinic participates with your health care plan.
Getting care from an in-network physical therapist should lessen your financial burden. Some physical therapists may not participate in any health insurance plans and receive payment for services solely from you.
4. Ask whether the clinic will submit insurance claims on your behalf.
Some insurance policies require a copayment. A copayment is a fixed amount you pay for covered care after you have met your deductible. Your deductible is the portion you must pay before insurance benefits begin. Your copayment may depend on whether the physical therapist is part of your insurance provider’s network.
The clinic should be able to help you estimate the amount for which you are responsible. It is best to contact your insurance company before treatment to verify your out-of-pocket costs.
See Understanding Health Insurance Terms for more information.
5. Verify that your physical therapy treatment is provided by a licensed provider.
Look for the initials PT or DPT (doctor of physical therapy) after the physical therapist’s name on their:
- Business card.
- Signature line.
- Clinic website.
Physical therapist assistants use the initials PTA. Physical therapist services include evaluation and treatments provided by a licensed physical therapist or PTA who provides care under a physical therapist's direction.
Some physical therapists achieve advanced knowledge, experience, and skills and go on to become board-certified clinical specialists in one of these 10 physical therapy specialties:
Learn about the many symptoms and conditions physical therapists treat .
You can contact a physical therapist directly for an evaluation. To locate a physical therapist in your area, visit Find a PT.
Find a PT near you!