Think back to a recent injury you may have sustained. Maybe you tweaked an ankle while starting your new running program, or, maybe your knee just wouldn’t stop aching after you started your summer tennis league. 

You likely had a pretty good idea of what was causing your pain. But you needed to find a healthcare provider that could help. So, where did you begin? Probably with a visit to your primary care provider, and then onto an orthopedic specialist, who finally referred you to a Physical Therapist.

These multiple doctor’s visits cost you both money (co-pays) and time. Delaying your care for several weeks. Weeks where you could have been getting the help you needed.

Wouldn’t it have been easier to head right to your Physical Therapist? Saving yourself several steps and some money along the way. The good news is, you can!

With direct access physical therapy, you can skip seeing multiple physicians for musculoskeletal injuries and head straight to your Physical Therapist. 

Direct Access Physical Therapy

Direct access is pretty much what it sounds like, direct access to physical therapy services without a physician referral or prescription. 

You no longer need to wait to see your primary care physician and get a referral or prescription for physical therapy. You do not need to wait weeks on end or pay multiple copays. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your knee, shoulder, back, neck, or more call your physical therapist first.

You can be on the road to recovery before you know it!

How does direct access physical therapy work?

Direct access for physical therapy is available in all 50 states. But, it is regulated at the state and payer level. Some states regulate the number of visits and some states have no restrictions. All 50 states fall into one of the following direct access categories:

Limited Patient Access. Patients can access physical therapy services for evaluation and limited treatment. But, patients likely require a physician referral.

Patient Access with Provisions. Patients can access physical therapy services with time or visit limits. The provisions may also require referrals for additional treatments or interventions.

Unrestricted Access. Patients can access physical therapy services without any limitations.

Learn more about your state’s direct access provisions by visiting the American Physical Therapy Association.

Direct access laws in Montana provide patients unrestricted access to physical therapy services. Patients do not need a referral or prescription to seek physical therapy. In Helena, Optimal Sports Physical Therapy can help. Visit our website or call our office at 406-502-1782 to learn more about your physical therapy coverage.

Why is direct access important to me?

Faster access to the care you need

A 2017 study showed that patients in the US wait, on average, 24 days to get an appointment with their primary care provider. This long wait time is frustrating. For patients struggling with issues like lower back pain, it can prolong their recovery. 

At Optimal Sports Physical Therapy in Helena, we are able to see most new patients within just a few days setting our patients on the road to recovery much faster.

Lower cost 

Avoiding trips to multiple doctor’s offices can save you, your insurance company, and the health system money. Patients pay fewer copays and can see savings upward of $500 with direct access. And, insurance companies spend, on average, 30% less for patients who used direct access physical therapy.

High satisfaction and better outcomes.

Several research studies have indicated that direct access patients report higher satisfaction with their care versus referral patients. These studies have shown that patient satisfaction scores can be anywhere from 5% to 9% higher. 

Direct access physical therapy patients show greater outcomes in a number of areas. Research has indicated that direct access patients are more likely to achieve their physical therapy goals, finish the recommended course of treatment, and report less ongoing pain. Prompt intervention after an injury is key to long-term positive outcomes, and direct access can help provide that.

Is direct access physical therapy safe?

Our goal at Optimal Sports Physical Therapy is to provide the safest, highest quality of care for our patients. Our Physical Therapists are highly trained doctors who specialize in the evaluation and treatment of musculoskeletal and neuromuscular disorders. We are trained to identify conditions that require treatment beyond physical therapy. And, if more advanced care is needed, will refer you to the appropriate providers immediately. 

Want to learn more about our highly skilled team of Physical Therapists? Check them out!

Will my insurance cover my direct access physical therapy visit?

Private insurance

Most private insurance covers physical therapy services without a referral (direct access). There are still some that may require a physician referral. Review your insurance requirements for more details.

Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare

Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare insurance require a physician referral before a patient seeks physical therapy services.

The team at Optimal Sports Physical Therapy is here to help! Call our office today at 406-502-1782 to verify your eligibility for direct access care. Our team can also verify your other physical therapy benefits before you see your primary care.

Optimal Sports Physical Therapy – Direct Access Physical Therapy in Helena, Montana

Direct access physical therapy can save you a few steps (and a few dollars) on your path to recovery. We strive to help our patients avoid high risk, invasive treatments. We can evaluate and treat many musculoskeletal conditions right here in our Helena office.

If you are suffering from a knee, shoulder, back, neck, or other musculoskeletal condition that causes limitations in your functional movement, a visit to one of our highly trained Physical Therapists is a safe place to start on your road to recovery.

Optimal Sports Physical Therapy is able to provide faster access to physical therapy services, reduce your overall healthcare costs, and help you achieve optimal outcomes all without a physician referral. Learn more about what you can expect during a physical therapy visit on our website.
Are you ready to schedule an appointment?  Do you want help validating your direct access physical therapy benefits? Drop us an email at or give us a call at (406) 502-1782