Skip to content

PT Solutions

What is Direct Access to Physical Therapy?

May 7, 2015

What is Direct Access in Physical Therapy? | PT Solutions Physical Therapy Blog

Direct Access refers to the ability of patients to seek attention from a medical specialist like a physical therapist without needing a referral from their primary care physician.

On May 5, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed House Bill 505 allowing Georgians direct access to a physical therapist beginning July 1, 2015. The topic of direct access in physical therapy has been a point of discussion in the medical field for years; and currently over 43 other states have allowed direct access to physical therapy with no negative consequences. Thankfully, Georgia has embraced the concept of direct access to allow consumers more independence in their healthcare choices.

But first, what is the role of a physical therapist in healthcare? Physical Therapists (PTs) diagnose, treat and manage movement dysfunctions, and enhance the functional abilities of individuals of all ages. Given the formal education and clinical training they undergo, PTs are well qualified to evaluate a patient’s condition, determine an appropriate treatment plan, and safely execute this plan. Additionally, PTs are able to identify when physical therapy is not appropriate for an individual and refer the patient to another healthcare professional.

Because of the long-standing healthcare structure where physicians are most frequently the first point of contact, it may be difficult for some to think about seeing a PT first. However, physical therapy education now includes a doctoral degree, training in differential diagnosis (discerning one disease from another disease with similar symptoms), and all PTs must pass a state-licensing exam. In fact, many PTs choose to specialize in areas such as orthopedics, neurology, women’s health, etc. John D. Barnes, the CEO of the American Physical Therapy Association until 2013, stated, “Physical therapy is not a subspecialty of the medical profession and physical therapists are not medical doctors; we are a separate profession that provides a unique service…” Several high quality clinical studies have concluded that access to physical therapy care decreases patients’ level of risk because patients are less likely to need more invasive, higher-risk treatments.

Direct access to physical therapists gives you, the consumer, options. Direct access has extended the patient’s choice of health care providers and improved access to services that support wellness. Now, you can decide where you would like to start your journey to a pain-free lifestyle and bring freedom of movement back into your life.

If you are looking to start this journey with a PT, find a PT Solutions Physical Therapy clinic near you to schedule an appointment with one of our expert therapists.


About the PT 

Elizabeth Eldridge graduated from Presbyterian College before earning her doctorate in Physical Therapy from Emory University School of Medicine. She is currently a Resident in PT Solutions Orthopaedic Residency Program.



More like this

5 Exercises for Shoulder Pain

5 Exercises for Shoulder Pain

August 12, 2022
The shoulder is one of the most flexible joints in the human body. It allows people to use their arms for a wide range of functional activities and is therefore critical to daily life. A PT Solutions therapist can help...
Learn more about 5 Exercises for Shoulder Pain
America’s Unconfined Life Coach

America’s Unconfined Life Coach

July 7, 2022
Dr. Christopher Coleman has been working with Phillip Kellogg, PT, DPT, OCS, and Roland Webster, PT, DPT at PT Solutions of Decatur since 2019. Phillip recalls helping Christopher prepare for his upcoming Ted Talk, “Despite coming into the clinic earlier...
Learn more about America’s Unconfined Life Coach
Dale Yake Joins The Game

Dale Yake Joins The Game

June 22, 2022
Our CEO & Founder Dale Yake, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC, joined Sam Crenshaw and Greg Clarkson during the second hour of 92.9’s The Game radio show on June 18 to discuss sports injuries, ranging from the Atlanta Braves to ATL...
Learn more about Dale Yake Joins The Game