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FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What can physical therapists help me accomplish?
A: Physical therapists can help you improve your mobility and quality of life without the expense of surgery or side effects of pain medication. Physical therapists are also the health care professionals of choice for rehabilitation for orthopedic, neurologic, cardiopulmonary and many other conditions and injuries.

Q: What are the educational requirements to become a physical therapist?
A: Many physical therapy programs require that graduates obtain a doctor of physical therapy degree. The minimum educational requirement is a master's degree.

Q: Are physical therapists doctors?
A: Many physical therapists are doctors of physical therapy. All are trusted health care professionals with extensive training in diagnosing and treating conditions that limit the body's ability to move and function in daily life.

Q: How can a physical therapist help me?
A: Physical therapists are experts in the way the human body moves. They use treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. They will also help you prevent loss of mobility by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs to help you achieve a healthier and more active lifestyle.

Q: How can I see a physical therapist?
A: In most states, you can make an appointment with a physical therapist directly, without a physician referral.

Q: Can a physical therapist help to alleviate pain?
A: Yes, in many cases, a personal, comprehensive treatment plan by a physical therapist can help you reduce and/or eliminate pain.

Q: Can a physical therapist help me avoid surgery?
A: Yes, many conditions can be successfully treated without expensive and painful surgery. Talk to your physical therapist to see what options are available to you. Surgery does not have to be your only course of action.

Q: Are physical therapists covered by my health insurance?
A: In most cases, yes. The following guides will help you to learn more about insurance coverage for physical therapy.

Handling Health Insurance Disputes A Kaiser Family Foundation consumer guide to handling disputes with your employer or private health plan.

How Private Insurance Works: A Primer From the Kaiser Family Foundation, a basic overview of private insurance for health care.

Physical Therapy & Your Insurance: A Patient's Guide to Getting the Best Coverage The best way to take care of your health is to take an active role in your own health care. To do this, you need to know about your options and your rights as a patient.

Understanding Health Insurance Terms Glossary for the consumer of common terms dealing with health insurance.

Understanding Reimbursement for Physical Therapy Physical therapists are professional health care providers who are licensed by the state in which they practice.

Q: Do physical therapists have specialist certifications in areas of expertise?
A: Some physical therapists choose to advance their knowledge and expertise in specialty areas such as pediatrics, neurology, sports or geriatrics to name a few. To achieve these certifications, they must sit for specialist certification exams, and have completed a minimum of 2,000 hours of direct patient care in the specialty area. Other specific requirements may apply based on specialty area. Specialist certifications can be held in the areas of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary, Clinical Electrophysiologic, Geriatric, Neurologic, Orthopedic, Pediatric, Sports, and Women's Health.

Q: How can I lobby Congress to support physical therapy legislation?
A: to visit American Physical Therapy Association's (APTA) Patient Action Center and contact Congress about important physical therapy issues.

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