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Direct Access for Physical Therapy in Missouri, FINALLY: What it means and why it matters.

The Missouri legislature is currently debating whether patients in the state will be able to have direct access to physical therapists without a referral.  People in Kansas and 47 other states already have direct access to physical therapists, and this has been a game changer for people who are seeking care.

Why is direct access important?  It frees up time and money for people who are seeking care from physical therapy.  Currently in Missouri, if a person has back pain, has incontinence, or recently sprained their ankle, they need to go to their primary care provider and have to ask to go to PT.  That means more time in pain waiting for appointments, more co-pays or office visit fees, and more time before the issue is being addressed.

Direct access does not mean that we are not in communication with the patient’s provider.  It means that we are screening for musculoskeletal or nerve injuries that we, as physical therapists, can treat.  It also means that we are screening for red flags that could indicate a more serious injury or disease process that is causing the pain or dysfunction.  Currently, in Kansas, we are required to contact the patient’s provider after 10 visits or 30 days to inform the provider of progress that the patient is making.  The way that the Missouri bill is written, direct access communication requirements in Missouri would be very similar.

Physical therapists are highly skilled providers that require a master’s or doctoral degree.  Many have also completed advanced board exams and courses.  Because of this, we are the experts in functional movement and musculoskeletal dysfunction.  We play an important role in the medical team in preventing and recovering from injuries, surgical prehab and rehab, and managing disease process symptoms.

The physical therapists at Foundational Concepts have all specialized in pelvic health and have taken a large number of advanced course work and exams to continue to provide the highest-level care for our patients.  We work closely with our patients and their providers in the care of pelvic related symptoms.  Many of our patients have seen multiple providers without a successful diagnosis as the underlying cause of their symptoms in musculoskeletal. 

When we can see patients directly, we can help to relieve the frustration that seeing multiple providers can cause and help to direct the patients to the type of provider that would best help with their issues.  We are excited to hopefully be able to offer direct access in Missouri in 2023.

At Foundational Concepts, we offer a free 15 minute phone consultation to help answer any questions you may have and ensure you are in the right place for care.

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