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Physical Therapy (PT) or Chiropractic Treatment??

Differences between physical therapy and chiropractic care for personal injury cases

In the past 5 years, I have had several conversations with people about the differences and benefits of receiving physical therapy versus chiropractic care following a personal injury and how this decision affects a personal injury case. Many doctors who I work with believe that Physical Therapy is trending, and that it is a more respected form of therapy than is chiropractic care. Some of these doctors even happen to be chiropractors!! It is my belief that both types of treatment work and personally, I have no problem having either chiropractic care or physical therapy on any of my cases. There are, however, several differences that people should know about.
Generally speaking, physical therapy is more costly than chiropractic care. Bills from PT offices are usually anywhere from 20%-40% higher than the average chiropractor bill that I see on cases with similar number of visits. Some of the techniques used are the same and there are also some things that are different. Physical therapy has a greater focus on exercises, stretching and strengthening than does chiropractic care. Most chiropractors will use electric stimulation, ultrasound and chiropractic manipulation, which is not seen at physical therapy clinics. In order for a client/patient to be treated by a physical therapist, they first need to obtain a prescription for physical therapy from a medical doctor. (MD) For purposes of a personal injury case, this is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one side, it is nice to have a medical doctor overseeing a client’s/patient’s care. On the other side, it can often be difficult to get someone in to see a MD immediately which can be important in a personal injury case. Also, the higher bills form the PT are nice in as much as they often will increase the value of a case. However, many PT clinics do not treat their patients as longs as most chiropractors so often times it becomes a wash. When dealing with insurance companies, physical therapists are more respected than are chiropractors. Also, on cases with PT, there is always a MD on the case too which helps to legitimatize any therapy that has been done. However, in my practice, to this day, I am still able to settle claims with chiropractic care just as well as I am cases with PT on them.
There are so many chiropractors out there today which leads me to believe that they are becoming more respected in the community. That said, in the past decade, there has also been a movement towards big box physical therapy outfits that have come on the scene with a vengeance. (ie. ATI, Athletico, Premier Physical Therapy) These places are popping up on every corner. These places are very impressive to the naked eye and have large budgets to spend money on advertising thus they are getting people in the door. While I am sure these types of places do a good job for people, I question whether or not they really understand the personal injury case game. They tend to keep clients/patients around for too long, often with no referrals out for diagnostic testing. Also, in these types of places, the therapists there are working for a paycheck and don’t have any real vested interest in the dynamics of personal injury cases thus the communication is poor. The chain of command there is so big that it is usually difficult to speak to the right people about client’s care, billing or any other issues that may arise during the course of a case.
In conclusion, whether you choose to receive chiropractic care or physical therapy following a personal injury, I think that you can benefit from both types of treatment. I would suggest that you keep an open mind and weigh your options when making your decision.
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Law Office of Ryan M. Rosenthal
The Law Offices of Richard S. Sennett.
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