Physical Therapy Direct Access Turns 20

Physical Therapy in New Jersey drastically changed 20 years ago when bill 45:9-37.18 was passed granting patients the ability to access Physical Therapy services without seeing their Doctor first.  This law continues to provide greater access to Physical Therapy services for everyone in New Jersey as it has been shown to:

Decrease the Amount of Time to Get the Treatment You Need

Did you know the average wait time to get an appointment with your Orthopedic Doctor is 27 days! That is almost a month of wasted time spent being in pain, doing nothing to improve your pain.  To make matters worse, one of the strategies our bodies utilize when we are in pain is to shut the surrounding muscles down in the area of pain to prevent further injury.  We literally get weaker the longer we are in pain which compounds our injuries and makes recovery more challenging.

On the other hand you are able to be seen by a physical therapist here at BeneFIT Physical Therapy within 24 hours of calling our office!

Decrease the Amount of Money Spent on Your Healthcare

Seeing your Doctor prior to attending physical therapy typically requires a number of steps to go through each with a financial cost to you.  For example, if you are having back pain the average patient will see a Doctor 5-6 times prior to starting physical therapy!  Each of those visits has some sort of copay or deductible payment you must make.  In fact, research indicates that the average back patient would save $3,700 just by skipping the Doctor entirely and heading straight to their physical therapist.


When patients find out the research on Direct Access they typically are shocked.  However, they also tend to wonder “Can my Physical Therapist figure out what is causing me pain without the Doctor?”  The short answer, and good news, is a resounding Yes!  The long answer is the current research indicates that the average Orthopedic Doctor will correctly diagnose an orthopedic patient 82% of the time.  The average Physical Therapist will correctly diagnose an orthopedic patient 79% of the time.  The study found that this difference between an Orthopedic Doctor and an outpatient orthopedic Physical Therapist was not a statistically significant difference, meaning the results were pretty much the same.  However, all other healthcare professionals (Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, Chiropractors, and non-orthopedic Physicians) will diagnose an orthopedic patient correctly only 30% of the time!  Mind blowing stuff in today’s healthcare!

The next time you are in pain and are thinking of reaching out to your Doctor, instead give your Physical Therapist a call.  It should save you time and money!