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According to the American Physical Therapy Association: “Physical therapists can teach patients how to prevent or manage their condition so that they will achieve long-term health benefits. PTs examine each individual and develop a plan, using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. In addition, PTs work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.” (1)


October is National Physical Therapy Awareness Month so make sure to thank your therapist for all their hard work or share with friends and family how a physical therapist has helped you.  

Some of you might be surprised by this but many people in this country still are unaware of the benefits of working with a physical therapist. 

Physical therapists, who are movement experts, can prescribe physical exercise and perform other hands-on techniques to help patients/clients gain or maintain movement, prevent injury, and help to avoid surgeries or long-term medication use. 

Physical therapists are well-qualified to evaluate a patient's condition, assess his or her physical therapy needs and, if appropriate, safely and effectively treat the patient.  They receive extensive training to recognize when patients demonstrate conditions, signs and symptoms which are out of our scope.  Physical therapists can also recognize whether a patient should be evaluated by or referred to other health care professionals.  

For more than 30 years patients in many states across the country have been visiting their physical therapists just as they would go to a Chiropractor or Physician.  Last year California joined their ranks with a new law which allows California consumers direct access to physical therapists. Direct Access is your ability to be evaluated and treated by a licensed Physical Therapist without first seeing your physician for a referral. (2)

Direct Assess is something that we are very excited about.  Direct access allows our patients quicker and easier access to the care they deserve, thorough and lengthy evaluations from 30-60 minutes depending on the clinic, and in many cases seeing a physical therapist first can result in overall fewer treatment sessions. 

 If your treatment care is longer than 45 days (longer than 6 weeks) or requires more than 12 visits, then the physical therapist must receive a dated signature on the physical therapist’s plan of care from the patient’s physician, surgeon, or podiatrist indicating approval of the physical therapist’s plan of care. Approval of the physical therapist’s plan of care shall include an in-person patient examination and evaluation of the patient’s condition and, if indicated, testing by the physician and surgeon or podiatrist. (3)

So whether your problem is an acute injury or a chronic condition which is flared up, give your therapist a call and avoid the wait at the physician office. 

But if you’re new to physical therapy and live in the Bay Area, come check us out at Diaz Olson Physical Therapy and Sports Rehabilitation, Inc.

- Dr. Heather Hartman, PT, DPT