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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Fighting for Direct Access in the Hoosier State

Published March 7, 2011 11:11 AM by Danielle Bullen

The Indiana state legislature is debating a proposal to permit physical therapists to treat patients for up to 30 days without a referral. The state's DPT students support the measure, as many of them lobbied their representatives in Indianopolis.

One student told the Evansville Courier & Press that the lack of direct access contributes to a physical therapy brain drain in Indiana, with many graduates seeing jobs elsewhere. Indiana is one of just four states that currently don't offer patients direct access to physical therapy services. Direct access is a pillar of the APTA's Vision 2020 goals.  Its absence doen't bode well for the profession's image. Jessica Smeltz, a student at the University of Evansville's DPT program, was quoted in the Courier & Press. "Sometimes a patient will choose to go to a chiropractor, a massage therapist, even a personal trainer before they come see a physical therapist."

Physical therapists work diligently every day to prove their worth as health care professionals. If patients need to jump through hoops to get treatments, it's no wonder they turn to massage therapists and other less medically savvy practioners. But such treatments may only put a metaphorical band-aid on the problem and not treat the core medical issues like physical therapists can.

What do you think? Do you practice in one of the non-direct-access states? If you're a student, will direct access play a part in where you settle post-graduation?


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