Close Get Latest Internet Explorer Get Latest Firefox Get Latest Chrome

Frequently Asked Questions


What is physical therapy. What does a physical therapist do?

Physical therapy (PT), is a healthcare profession with highly-educated and specialized therapists that focus on evaluating and treating musculoskeletal disorders and maximizing a person’s functional status. Inova’s physical therapists work with patients to decrease functional impairments and improve mobility, strength and functional capabilities. In other words, physical therapists help you move around better so that you can more easily perform activities of daily living.


Why should I choose physical therapy at Inova?

Inova offers one of the most comprehensive physical therapy programs in the mid-Atlantic, including full therapeutic options for hospital inpatients as well as outpatient therapy and specialty programs.

Inova physical therapy services are conveniently located throughout Northern Virginia at all Inova hospital campuses and at nine individual outpatient locations of Inova Physical Therapy Center. IPTC provides a full spectrum of outpatient services during extended weekday hours and some weekend hours.

Inova clinicians are full licensed and use the latest in evidence based practice to determine the best treatment plan for each patient.


Who gets physical therapy?

Physical therapy helps patients heal from or manage a multitude of issues, including some of these most common conditions:

  • Recovery from back surgery
  • Recovery from joint replacement surgery or other orthopedic procedure
  • Healing tendon or ligament problems
  • Dealing with arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and other chronic conditions
  • Recovery from falls, moving vehicle accidents and other trauma
  • Sports injuries and fitness goals

What type of results can I expect with therapy?

Every patient’s results vary. However, patient satisfaction statistics collected by Inova Physical Therapy Center indicate that more than 90 percent of outpatients surveyed over the past decade have rated their overall experience as “excellent.”


What should I bring and wear to a therapy session?

For your first appointment, bring a photo ID, your insurance card, and the prescription or referral from your physician (if needed). Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing such as sweats. Please arrive about 20 minutes before your appointment to complete the paperwork used by your therapist to customize your care.


What is the education for a physical therapist and a physical therapist assistant?

All physical therapists now complete a three-year post-graduate program, earning a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree. All clinicians are required to pass a state licensure exam and are also required to take continuing education classes annually in order to maintain licensure.

Physical therapy assistants (PTAs) are healthcare professionals who aide the physical therapist in treating patients. All PTAs are graduates of a two-year Associate’s Degree program and are licensed in the state of Virginia. PT assistants work under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist.


How do I make an appointment with an Inova physical therapist?

Depending on your insurance plan, you may either need a referral (prescription) from your physician for physical therapy or you may be able to call and schedule directly without a physician referral. Please check with your insurance company to learn about your physical therapy benefits.

For patients willing to pay out of pocket for therapy, you may call one of the Inova physical therapy outpatient locations for an appointment. You can be treated for up to 14 days under the state of Virginia’s current State Practice Act.


Will my insurance cover physical therapy? How much therapy can I receive?

Benefits vary by insurance plan. In most cases, physical therapy is a covered benefit, with a specific number of visits allowed assuming they are deemed medically necessary. Contact your insurance company for specifics regarding your benefits.


What does ‘medical necessity’ mean and how will this affect my PT?

While each insurance provider may have their own interpretation and definition of what justifies medical necessity, some common requirements exist. The designated treatment must require the skilled intervention of a therapist, meaning patients could not accomplish the treatment on their own (i.e., strengthening exercises alone). Other common requirements are identified functional limitations, reasonable expectations of improvement, and documented progress toward goals.


What happens when my insurance benefits run out?

Each insurance provider sets a limit for the number of covered physical therapy visits. Once a patient has exhausted all of their covered benefits for therapy, patients may continue treatment if they self pay. Rates for self-pay patients are not discounted.


Will my physical therapist communicate with my doctor?

Yes, your physical therapist will communicate directly with physicians whenever it is necessary to better serve your needs and to effectively coordinate your care. PTs will send notes to physicians prior to a patient’s follow-up visit and will keep the physician informed about the patient’s status.