Early Physical Therapy

Early Physical Therapy to Reduce Subsequent Health Care Utilization and Overall Costs

February 26, 2018 - by Diem Gray - in Treatment & Prevention

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There are a number of research studies supporting the use of early physical therapy to reduce subsequent health care utilization and overall costs:

“The influence of patient choice of first provider on costs and outcomes: Analysis from a physical therapy patient registry” (1)

Patients who chose to begin care with a physical therapist (via direct access) for back or neck pain had significantly lower costs of care over the next year when compared to those who chose traditional medical referral. The mean difference between groups was $1543. Similar improvements in patient outcomes were seen at discharge from physical therapy.  

“Management patterns in acute low back pain: The role of physical therapy” (3)

Patients who received PT within 30 days after initial physician visit for low back pain versus 90 days had lower risk of utilizing subsequent medical services including physician office visits, epidural steroid injections and surgery. 

“Primary care referral of patients with low back pain to physical therapy: Impact on future health care utilization and costs” (2)

Patients that received physical therapy interventions for low back pain (LBP) within 14 days after initial primary care visit had decreased risk of subsequent surgery, injections, physician visits, opioid use, and advanced imaging when compared to those seen between 15 and 90 days after. LBP-related medical costs were also lower for those who received early physical therapy.

About Dr. Michelle Steege, PT, DPT:

Michelle is passionate about the profession of physical therapy, which allows her to help people return to the activities they love. Her experience in a hospital-based

Dr. Michelle Steege, PT, DPT
Dr. Michelle Steege, PT, DPT

outpatient orthopedic setting has given her the opportunity to treat a variety of orthopedic conditions and sports injuries. Michelle began her orthopedic residency at Motion in 2017, further advancing her knowledge in the world of physical therapy. She also has training in instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) and running analysis.

Michelle earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire in exercise science. She then attended the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas where she earned her doctorate in physical therapy.

In her free time, Michelle enjoys being outdoors—running, biking, hiking, kayaking, and spending time at the cabin in northern Wisconsin.

Schedule an Appointment with Dr. Michelle Today

Works Cited

  1. Denninger, T. R., Cook, C. E., Chapman, C. G., McHenry, T., & Thigpen, C. A. (2017). The Influence of Patient Choice of First Provider on Costs and Outcomes: Analysis From a Physical Therapy Patient Registry. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 48(2), 1–26.
  2. Fritz, J. M., Childs, J. D., Wainner, R. S., & Flynn, T. W. (2012). Primary care referral of patients with low back pain to physical therapy: Impact on future health care utilization and costs. Spine, 37(25), 2114–2121.
  3. Gellhorn, A. C., Chan, L., Martin, B., & Friedly, J. (2012). Management patterns in acute low back pain: The role of physical therapy. Spine, 37(9), 775–782.

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