Minnesota Law Improves Patient Access

ALEXANDRIA, VA, April 29, 2008 — Minnesota residents will find it easier to obtain services from a licensed physical therapist under legislation signed into law April 17 by Minnesota Gov Tim Pawlenty. Senate File 1018, sponsored by Sen Yvonne Prettner Solon, and House File 1189, sponsored by Rep Paul Thissen, expand the timeframe in which patients may visit physical therapists without a physician referral.

"Providing patients and clients with direct access to physical therapist services saves them money and prevents unnecessary delays in services that can affect recovery," said Joan Purrington, PT, MA, President of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association. "Legislation that helps ease restrictions on access to physical therapist services better serves Minnesota consumers." Under the new law, patients are allowed 90 days of treatment by a physical therapist without a physician referral. Prior to this law, treatment was limited to 30 days.

"We congratulate Minnesota patients and physical therapists for working hard to improve patient care," said American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) President R Scott Ward, PT, PhD. "Studies show what those involved in the physical therapy profession know to be true - that direct access lowers costs, improves access to care, and offers patients a greater choice of services. Minnesota has taken another step to improve health care quality for its citizens."

Physical therapists are health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to the elderly, who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. Physical therapists examine each individual and develop a plan of care that uses treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. Physical therapists also work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.

As a member-driven and volunteer-led organization, the Minnesota Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association (MN APTA) leads its membership in advocating for and securing the future of the profession of Physical Therapy. For more information, visit www.mnapta.org.

The American Physical Therapy Association (www.apta.org) is a national organization representing more than 71,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students nationwide. Its goal is to foster advancements in physical therapist education, practice, and research. Consumers can access www.findapt.us to find a physical therapist in their area, as well as physical therapy news and information at www.apta.org/consumer.