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What is Direct Access to Physical Therapy?

A question that is often asked in the physical therapy clinic is: Do I need a referral to come to physical therapy?

The short answer is no.

In the past, patients who required PT services need to be referred by their physician. So, if you hurt your knee or your ankle, you would need to see your doctor first, and then a prescription for PT services would be written, allowing you to access to therapy.

Since 2006, physical therapists in New York have been able to see patients via direct access. Direct access means that you are able to be evaluated and treated by a PT without a physician's referral or prescription. There are a few rules surrounding direct access, including:

  • The PT you see must have three years experience in practice.

  • You may only be seen for 10 sessions or 30 consecutive days, whichever comes first.

  • The PT providing the service must have you fill out and sign a "Notice of Advice." In this document, the PT must advise you of direct access law.

Direct access to PT services allows you to quickly get in to see your therapist without having to visit your physician first. Of course, if you have a problem that is serious, you should go to your physician first. Also, if you see your PT via direct access and he or she deems that your problem requires more intensive medical attention, they should refer you to the appropriate medical provider.

Since 2006, there is no known negative effect of having direct access to physical therapy. It is a safe and effective way to get access to the PT services you need without having to make unnecessary physician appointments.

If you are in pain or are having trouble with functional mobility, call us at (518) 439-5006 and we can help you get back to your normal activity!


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