When the ball dropped at midnight ending 2019, it is safe to say that none of us anticipated that 2020 would play out the way it would. For some it has been filled with unexpected opportunities to better themselves (work out more, eat better or find a new hobby), improve relationships or work on projects that they had long put aside. For others, it has been filled with great challenges financially, mentally and physically due to the closures of offices and schools, social distancing guidelines and delays of elective surgeries. It has definitely been a year that we will never forget and one we all are looking forward to turning the page on.
But if there is one good thing to rise from the challenges we faced this year, it was that of putting our health in sharper focus and the value of assessing the team of experts we have at our disposal to care for us in times of good health and in times of crisis. As you look at and/or build your healthcare team, remember to include a physical therapist. A physical therapist can be such a valuable member of your team because:
PT BUILDS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
The immune system is the defender of your body keeping out what needs to be kept out. Commonly seen as the body’s army, your immune system fights disease causing organisms and protects you by cleaning up and disposing of dead or damaged cells along the lymphatic system. A healthy immune system also helps when muscles are initially inflamed as the body sends its “army” to fight the fire and reduce the inflammation. However, the longer one stays in an inflammatory state the more depleted your army becomes leaving your immune system weakened on other defense fronts.
Physical therapy helps you to reduce your inflammation and boost your immune system leaving it stronger to fight potential “intruders” elsewhere.
EARLY PT SAVES YOU MONEY
The rising cost of healthcare is well known and early physical therapy intervention has been shown to reduce costs without reducing the effectiveness of treatment. A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy showed that patients who obtained physical therapy via direct access had significantly lower medical costs – an average of $1,543 less per patient – than those who chose to see a physician first. They also had significantly fewer visits and spent significantly fewer days in care.
As a reminder, Direct Access refers to the ability of patients to be evaluated and treated by a physical therapist without being referred by a doctor or other healthcare practitioner. Essentially if an individual feels they have a problem that may benefit from the services of a physical therapist they can “refer” themselves for treatment. This enables the individual to begin treatment quicker / get relief faster by coming directly to us vs. waiting to get in to see a doctor who then in turn would refer you to physical therapy, a process that can often take at least 7-10 days, time you could have spent getting much needed relief and on the road back to your daily activities. Insurance will still pay for treatment and patient responsibility – i.e. copays, deductibles, etc. – associated with care is the same as if you had come to us with a prescription.
While the benefits of direct access have always existed, it can be particularly crucial within the current health environment. Back in March, Dr. Matos – an expert in biologic surety who has experience working with the CDC and has served as a public health emergency officer – said “Physical therapists are essential in flattening the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic. They play a key role in keeping people they can help out of the doctor offices and ER’s. This will not only free up the medical teams to treat those impacted by COVID-19, but also limit the exposure of those seeking the care of the physical therapist.”
EARLY PT INTERVENTION REDUCES PAIN … Without the Drugs
Physical therapists are trained to treat pain without surgery or medication. Studies have shown that people who receive physical therapy sooner have better outcomes, lower costs, are less likely to have surgery, use opioids or have unnecessary testing.
Nearly 80% of people will have back pain at some point in their lifetime. It has been shown that those who saw a physical therapist at the first point of care had an 89% lower probability of receiving an opioid prescription, a 28% lower probability of having advanced imaging services and a 15% lower probability of an emergency room visit. Unfortunately only 2% of people with back pain start with physical therapy and only 7% get to physical therapy within 90 days.
If you are or someone you know is experiencing tingling or loss of joint function, problems with balance or decreased motion of the neck, shoulder, back or hips, don’t wait. Your friends at Chiron are here to help. We are Direct Access certified and will care FOR you and care ABOUT you in every interaction as we get to the root cause of your issue to help you heal faster and live without limitations.
As we head into Thanksgiving, your Chiron family extends our heartfelt gratitude to you and the amazing community we serve. We are so appreciative for your trust and the personality you bring to our office. We know you have choices where to seek your care and are humbled each time you choose us to walk alongside you when you are hurting. Thank you for allowing us to part of your life and your wellness journey. We wish all of you a healthy, laughter-filled, joyful Thanksgiving and Holiday Season.