home physical therapy defined

Home Physical Therapy Defined

by Dr. Erin Carr, June 22, 2015

Home Physical Therapy vs. Home Health Physical Therapy

You would think home physical therapy and home health physical therapy are the same thing.  After all they do sound the same.  However, they are very different. Gaining a better understanding of physical therapy and the meanings of these different types of physical therapy in home treatments can be very helpful. Especially for a patient looking for help in their own healing process. Once you have gained a better understanding of these terms.  You will be able to selct the appropriate type of home physical therapist for you.

What are the differences?

The basic concept of the term “home physical therapy” usually refers to what is more officially known as “outpatient” private practice physical therapy in the home. Similar to the home physical therapy treatments Dr Carr Integrative Physical Therapy provides. Private practice home physical therapy treatments offer more freedom or greater abilities of what private practice physical therapists can do to help heal their patients.

In contrast, home health physical therapists are more limited in the type of treatments they provide. In general they focus on more basic “exercise only” styles of treatment.  These exercise only treatments offer no “hands on” methods or more advanced PT treatment beyond exercise.  Home health physical therapy is usually prescribed immediately after a patient is released from the hospital. The patient may be considered more fragile by the medical industry, and thus not ready for the more progressive extensive healing treatments that an outpatient private practice home physical therapist may use. A home health physical therapist may be part of a larger home health team. Such as a home health nurse or other home health medical practitioners. Generally, home health physical therapists are part of larger corporate agencies.  Home health PTs are there to help with a patient’s short term basic recovery. In addition patients must be discharged from their home health services before they are able to receive treatment from outpatient private practice home physical therapy doctors.

There is a gray area that is worth mentioning. Since the definition of Outpatient Therapy basically means:

a form of therapeutic treatment that is offered to people who do not need to be hospitalized.”

This is the gray area, as home health physical therapy is for people who were recently discharged from the hospital… Since they were hospitalized but are no longer, a person could argue that by definition home health could be considered under the outpatient category…

But for our sake, when trying to find the right in home physical therapy for you. This is more semantics than reality. When you personally are looking for the appropriate physical therapist for your home. Simply ask if they are a home health physical therapist, or if they are an in home physical therapist. For absolute clarity you could add; “private practice home physical therapist”.  Or, to be more literal you could ask if they provide; “private practice outpatient home physical therapy”. But most PTs will understand exactly what you mean by simply asking if they provide home health physical therapy or in home physical therapy.

Here is an expanded explanation:

In Home Physical Therapy

Standard hospital doctors do not usually prescribe outpatient private pratice home physical therapy after a patient is discharged from the hospital. However, home physical therapy can be prescribed by a patient’s primary care doctor, or a specialist. Also, patients can self refer, without a prescription, if they feel they need it.  If a patient wants to self refer, they simply can call a physical therapy clinic themselves and ask for an Initial Consultation.  The pt clinic should be able to help you gain a better understanding, of the initial steps to take, in order to start physical therapy.  (there are some caveats to this, in terms of medical insurances and out of network treatments, which are specific to each persons situation as well as the PT they choose.) In home physical therapy is more of an all-encompassing advanced healing experience. It is provided by expert progressive physical therapists in home.  In home physical therapy isn’t just for patients returning home from the hospital. But people of all ages with many types of injuries. Whether a youth, adult or beyond. Home physical therapy molds to the specific needs of the patient. If you have an acute injury… The gentle hands on healing treatments can be used to help heal the injured area(s) of the body by enhancing visceral balance and blood flow. Our home physical therapy integrates these advanced methods with functional strength, balance and range of motion exercise specific to the patients needs. As the physical therapists in home treatments progress. The PT will utilize the patient’s indoor and outdoor home environment to help promote additional optimal healing and recovery.

Home Health Physical Therapy

Home health PT focuses on walking, simple strengthening, and range of motion exercises in the home. This can help a patient who has recently been hospitalized for an injury or condition. It is prescribed by a doctor immediately after the patient is discharged from the hospital.  This type of prescription focuses on patients who need physical therapy due to weakness, a loss of range of motion, strength or impaired function after hospitalization. For example, a patient who had a knee replacement will often be sent home and prescribed home health physical therapy several times a week for about a month. They focus on knee range of motion; walking and simple exercises that help the patient start moving again. Once they get to a certain level of function, they are then discharged from home health PT. Home health physical therapy is basically designed to be short-term to help a patient transition from hospital to home.

If you would like to find out more about the benefits or definitions of home physical therapy at all stages of recovery… Or to discuss enhancing your particular injury recovery situation you can contact Dr. Carr directly.

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