Spine patients benefit from direct access to physical therapy: 4 insights

Written by Megan Wood | February 15, 2018 | Print  |

Greenville-based University of South Carolina researchers studied the impact of direct access to physical therapy for spine patients on outcomes and costs.

The study included 603 patients with neck or back pain between 2012 and 2013. The patients either received a traditional medical referral or direct access to a physical therapy-led spine management program.


Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy published the study.


Here are four insights:


1. The study revealed a patient who pursued a specially designed physical therapy direct access program cost a payer $1,543 less than a patient who received a traditional screening by a primary care physician with a referral to physical therapy.


2. Those direct access physical therapy patients noted similar average improvement of 50-plus percent in pain and disability in the year after they began care.


3. Patients who chose direct access to physical therapy did not experience missed diagnoses or delays in care due to physical therapists' clinical decision-making.


4. Study authors noted additional research is necessary to support their findings.


More articles on spine:
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