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When Physical Therapy Can Help

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Can Physical Therapy Prevent Injury?

But PT isn't just for the wounded. Many clinics offer preventive evaluations to determine muscle weaknesses or other imbalances that could lead to injury. If a problem is identified, the therapist will provide exercises to keep an issue like tight hamstrings from turning into something more serious, such as a hamstring tear. "Most injuries are the result of long-standing weaknesses," says Kim Wallace, vice president of clinical operations for Excel Physical Therapy and Fitness in Philadelphia. "Correcting those problems now can save you a lot of stress and money later." Indeed, in one study, PT reduced ACL injuries by 41 percent.

If you can't touch your toes or complete a deep squat without pain, you should definitely consider making an appointment, says Kyle Kiesel, PhD, associate professor of physical therapy at the University of Indiana at Evansville. These are often signs of an underlying problem, such as tight hamstrings or underdeveloped glutes.

How much will you have to shell out for all of this rehab? According to the therapists we spoke to, an initial visit can run from $75 to $250, depending on the clinic and where you live; follow-up visits average $85 to $110. What you'll actually pay depends on insurance. "Physical therapy is a basic benefit of almost all plans; most companies cover from 50 to 80 percent of the visit after the patient copay, which is usually $5 to $40 per session," says Richard S. Katz, chairperson of the payment policy committee of the California Physical Therapy Association. Insurers can also cap the number of visits allowed, sometimes paying for as few as four for a minor injury.

Part of the discrepancy in coverage is that many insurance companies underestimate the effectiveness of PT. Slowly the perception is changing. A bill recently introduced in Congress increases access to therapy services for Medicare beneficiaries by removing the need for a physician's referral, something that many state laws have already allowed. The physical therapy community is also lobbying insurers to expand coverage, reduce out-of-pocket patient costs, and pay for treatment without a doctor's referral.

Theresa Barnes, 34, an avid runner in Indianapolis, needed a referral to physical therapy after pain in her right hip made her daily workout impossible. By the time she called her doctor, "the pain was so bad that just going to the supermarket was difficult," Theresa says. During her evaluation the therapist discovered that her hip muscles were significantly underdeveloped. Enter: Three months of squats, ball taps, and leg lifts. Today, Theresa is strong and healthy. "I'm enjoying running a lot more now," she says. "Had I known how quickly physical therapy would get me back on my feet, I would never have waited so long to go."

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roxyjones7 wrote:

Great article. I read a blog post about the history of physical therapy and it is really what sparked me to get going!

8/18/2014 02:12:14 PM Report Abuse
jleavitt84 wrote:

I have a friend that his been going to rehab for the last few months. He was really nervous about it too because he didn't know what to expect. After a few sessions he really started to enjoy it and he started liking his trainer. He is now almost done and he is so glad that he did it.

2/21/2014 04:16:56 PM Report Abuse
ealexander321 wrote:

My doctor diagnosed me with back strain, sent me to PT(physical therapy). PT said doctors always put that down and rely on them to figure out what is really the problem. 1st they said- strain of the sack the encases the spinal cord, then that it was trigger points (tight muscles). He used his thumb and pressed hard on my lower back where it hurt. Unfortunately it appears I actually had a bulging disc and they popped it and caused paralysis. I had to have surgery. Too bad couldn't get MRI 1st.

5/13/2010 03:00:11 PM Report Abuse
mcanna wrote:

Great article! As an under 30 year old woman, who also had hip surgery, PT has been a godsend. Even prior to surgery, going to PT helped out with pain. The PT's that I have seen have been are, for the most part, active individuals who understand that you want to get back to activity and feel better, in a different way than a doctor does.

5/11/2010 10:46:58 AM Report Abuse
deadicateddee wrote:

FYI, not only the elderly have hip replacements, one year ago at 38 I had a total hip replacement. I'm guessing that was just a 'play on words'...

2/25/2010 08:34:11 PM Report Abuse

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