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Can Physical Therapy be Too Much of a Good Thing?

Posted by Brian Spence on Nov 22, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Physical Therapy, PT, Allied HealthIn the injury management and treatment context, not only can the overuse of physical therapy be an expensive practice, but it may also slow the return to work process of affected staff members.

Studies have shown that physical therapy is only beneficial when it's applied in appropriate measure. The research also indicates that excessive use of physical therapy is significantly more expensive than many other cost drivers, such as legal fees. You may find that the increased cost concerns arise due to limited communication between the medics who prescribe physical therapy, injured workers, and physical therapists.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Excessive use of physical therapy is categorized to be fifteen or more sessions. In terms of price implications, for instance, fifteen sessions can be relatively close to double the cost of nine. And for that reason, it's paramount for medical practitioners, patients, and facilities that offer these services to ensure that only the recommended amount of physical therapy is carried out.

Repercussions of Delayed Physical Therapy

Delaying physical therapy is another reason that leads to the overuse of physical therapy. Such delays may come as a result of a combination of several factors. For instance, if doctors and claim managers do not communicate properly or schedule therapy—delays may result.

Another factor could be the worker's inability to tolerate pain or avoid therapy because of psychological factors such as the fear of pain. It's also common practice to delay tests and medical interventions in the hope that the patient will recover without them. However, if you start quality treatment early on, recovery takes a shorter time.

Some reasons that lead to excessive use of physical therapy include unclear guidelines and unqualified and under-trained physical therapists. In other cases, physical therapy professionals are aware of the concern but may fail to curb the problem.

With that in mind, particular changes can be introduced to rectify excessive use of physical therapy. These changes include more nurse managers and reviewing utilization and pre-authorization guidelines.

To learn more about this and related topics, visit the Healthcare section of our blog.


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