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Physical therapy no longer requires referral after law changed

DeKALB – Illinois residents no longer have to be referred for physical therapy because of a recent state law change.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 4643 into law Aug. 16. The bill says a physical therapist may provide services to a patient with or without a referral from a specialist or other treating health care professional.

A study published by the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy said there could be an average savings of $1,543 in fees and treatment costs for those who chose physical therapy as their first treatment option instead of seeing a specialist first and then being referred to physical therapy. Both groups in the study saw similar improvement in condition, regardless of treatment sequence.

A news release from Northern Rehab Physical Therapy Specialists said unrestricted access to physical therapy means anyone can start adding regular physical therapy into their wellness routine before chronic pain limits their daily function.

A physical therapist providing services without a referral needs to notify the patient’s treating health care professional within five business days after the patient’s first physical therapy visit, according to the changed law.

Physical therapists also are required to refer patients to another provider if there is no measurable improvement within 10 visits or 15 business days, whichever comes first, the law said.

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