Where to Get Physical Therapy

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Physical therapy (PT) often starts with a prescription from your doctor. You might need PT after an injury or after surgery. Or, you might have a long-term health condition that PT could help.

And, just as physical therapy can help in many situations, it's also available in many settings.

At the Hospital

Sometimes, it's best to start physical therapy as soon as possible. That means it might start while you're still in the hospital after an injury, surgery or serious medical condition. For instance, PT after a stroke starts in the hospital. It may begin within days of the event.

Others who might start PT in the hospital include people:

  • Who've had knee or hip replacement surgery

  • With a spinal cord injurybr>
  • With a broken bonebr>
  • Who have an infected woundbr>
  • Receiving care for burnsbr>

At a Rehabilitation Facility

You may get treatment at a rehab center as a bridge between care at a hospital and care at home. This may be the case for people who've had joint replacement surgery or a spinal cord injury. They may move to a rehab center once they no longer need hospital care. People at a rehab center often get three or more hours of PT each day. That much treatment helps you get home and able to care for yourself more quickly.

At Home

Many physical therapists make house calls. Those who often get PT at home include:

  • People who will have a long recovery from surgery or injury

  • Those recovering from a stroke

  • People who have long-term pain

  • People with a condition that makes them likely to fall

  • Those with chronic lung disease or heart disease

  • People who have trouble controlling their bowels or bladder

At an Outpatient Clinic

This setting works for people who are mobile but need PT for a nagging injury or other problem. For instance, they might have a condition that limits movement or causes pain. They're not in the hospital or a rehab center. And, they can get around so they don't need at-home PT. Common reasons for choosing this option include:

At a Nursing Home

People who cannot care for themselves at home may move to a nursing home. Some stay for a short while until they can return home. Others who are more frail may stay long-term. PT can help them be better able to do basic things day to day. It also can help prevent further loss of mobility and more injury.

At a Fitness Center or Sports Training Facility

Athletes and others who want to improve their physical fitness might work with a physical therapist who specializes in sports PT. This can help:

  • Improve your skills

  • Prevent injury

  • Start or re-start a fitness program

  • Recover from an injury

If you’re just starting out and looking for a physical therapist on your own, search Healthgrades.com for a physical therapist in your area. Keep in mind that therapists may focus their practice in certain conditions, such as joint replacement rehabilitation, or populations, such as children. Knowing the specific training and expertise of the physical therapist will help you find a good match for your needs. 

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Oct 23
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

  1. Choosing Your Physical Therapist. American Physical Therapy Association. http://www.moveforwardpt.com/Resources/Choose.aspx

  2. About Physical Therapist Careers. American Physical Therapy Association. http://www.apta.org/PTCareers/Overview

  3. Preparing for Your Visit with a Physical Therapist. American Physical Therapy Association. http://www.moveforwardpt.com/resources/prepare.aspx

  4. Practice Areas. American Physical Therapy Association. http://www.moveforwardpt.com/ForHealthCareProfessionals/Detail/practice-areas