access to physical therapy

Should I Schedule a Free Assessment or a Physical Therapy Appointment?

by Athletico2 Comments

At Athletico, our experts are passionate about helping patients live pain-free lives, which is why providing access to exceptional care is among our top priorities.

Every patient is unique. Because of this, we offer a variety of ways to help patients get started with their journey into recovery, including free assessments, virtual free assessments and scheduled physical therapy appointments.

What is the difference between these service offerings?

We are glad you asked! Learn more below:

  • Free Assessment – This in-clinic assessment with one of our licensed healthcare experts can last up to 30 minutes. During this time a subjective report is taken of any musculoskeletal complaints, as well as movement and strength impairments. At the conclusion of the assessment patients are provided with information about their injury/condition as well as a recommendation for next steps in the treatment process. Those steps could include direction for self-care, starting physical therapy immediately* or referral to a physician for further evaluation.
  • Virtual Free Assessment – Similar in nature to the free assessment, but this service is performed through a secure online video chat via a mobile device or desktop. This enables a patient to consult with a licensed healthcare professional nearly instantly and gives patients the flexibility to have their condition assessed at the time and place that works best for them. At the conclusion of the assessment patients are provided with information about their injury/condition as well as a recommendation for next steps in the treatment process. That next step could be starting physical therapy immediately* or referral to a physician for further evaluation.
  • Schedule Physical Therapy Appointment via Direct Access – In states with laws allowing direct access to physical therapy services, patients can typically schedule an appointment and start treatment as soon as the same day if desired. This means that patients do not need a referral or prescription from their physician to see a physical therapist, allowing them to start treatment to reduce pain, increase mobility and improve overall function. Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin all have laws with direct access provisions put in place. The state of Texas will also soon be implementing direct access in the fall of 2019. It is important to note, however, that these laws vary at the state level. For instance, some states offer complete unrestricted direct consumer access to physical therapy, while other states have guidelines to the amount of visits or time that a patient can receive physical therapy treatment before requiring a referral or prescription from their physician. To learn more about the laws impacting direct access in your state, please contact an Athletico clinic local to your area or visit our “No Prescription Necessary” webpage for more information.
  • Schedule Physical Therapy Appointment via Physician Referral/Prescription – Patients can start physical therapy treatment with a physician referral/prescription. This is one of the traditional referral pathways to receive treatment from a physical therapist. What some patients may not know, however, is that they have a choice as to where they would like to receive physical therapy services. Upon receiving a referral for physical therapy, patients should take into consideration the skill level and services offered at the physical therapy practice, as well as the convenience of location and hours. For example, Athletico offers more than 475 convenient locations throughout 12 states. Many of these locations are open early mornings and evenings to accommodate patients’ busy schedules. In addition, our clinicians are provided with regular continuing education opportunities so they can advance their skillset and provide the best treatment possible to each and every patient.

Making the Right Choice

When choosing Athletico, you can be confident that you are taking the first right step in the recovery process. Whether you schedule a free assessment because you want peace of mind knowing that your injury is healing correctly, you need help deciding if you need to visit the doctor, or because you have decided to start treatment via direct access at your local clinic to finally deal with a nagging pain – our experts are here to help you navigate the healthcare journey. Take our quiz below to identify circumstances that are ideal for free assessments, virtual free assessments and scheduled appointments.

1. My son tripped during a soccer competition on Sunday and has some ankle soreness. I need an expert opinion on whether I should just ice the injury or make an appointment with his doctor.

Get an expert opinion at the soccer competition or when you get home with a virtual free assessment. Our team will take a look at the injury via secure online video chat and provide recommendations for next steps, such as referral to a physician or R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation). You can also locate the nearest Athletico clinic to schedule a free assessment if an appointment is available.

2. I have hip arthroscopic surgery scheduled and my physician noted I would need physical therapy following the procedure.

Your physician has provided you with a referral for physical therapy following your surgery. You have the choice of where you would like to receive physical therapy treatment, so make sure to research your options. At Athletico, we offer convenient locations and hours, as well as clinicians who strive toward clinical excellence, which are all things to take into consideration when choosing your physical therapy provider.

3. I have been experiencing back pain over the last month. I’m not sure if it could be a result of my sleeping posture or something more serious.

Make an appointment to be seen by an expert at one of our more than 475 clinics that are conveniently located throughout 12 states. Our flexible hours – open early mornings and evenings – make it easy to fit an appointment into your busy schedule. Our team will take a look at your condition and provide next steps for the recovery process, which may include starting physical therapy right away.* If time of day is a challenge, you can also choose a virtual free assessment to have your condition checked out by one of our experts via secure online video chat on your mobile device or desktop.

4. I am having a nagging pain in my shoulder when I reach overhead. I live in Illinois and I would like to begin treatment as soon as possible so the recovery process can begin.

Since Illinois is a direct access state, patients can begin physical therapy right away without a physician referral or prescription. Call your neighborhood Athletico and schedule an appointment today so you can start treatment.

Don’t wait to feel better – get started by scheduling a free assessment, virtual free assessment or physical therapy appointment at your nearest Athletico clinic today.

Get Started

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

* The ability to start physical therapy immediately without a prescription depends on your states direct access laws. Please contact a local Athletico clinic for more information or visit our “No Prescription Necessary” webpage.

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