So, it’s a little over a week before District Playoffs begin, and the intensity at practice is the highest it’s been all season. Coach decides to conclude practice with a scrimmage, and it’s getting physical. It’s only practice, but you and your teammates are playing like it’s a playoff game. You advance the ball up the field and cut hard toward the goal. As you plant your right foot, you step on your teammate’s foot, and your right ankle collapses. You feel and hear a “pop”, followed by brief tingling in your foot, then intense pain on the outside of your ankle. You crumple to the ground, writhing in pain. Your teammates rush over to you, followed by the Athletic Trainer. You don’t want anyone to know how much pain you’re in, so you try to stand up, but you’re unable to put any weight through your right leg. Your teammates help you to the sideline, where the Athletic Trainer examines your ankle. After a thorough exam, she cannot be sure, but she believes your ankle is not broken, but that you have a “significant” ankle sprain. After a long night with your ankle wrapped, iced, and elevated, an AM X-ray thankfully confirms that you did not break your ankle. You lower leg is now very swollen and bruised, and you still cannot put any weight on it. How will you possibly be ready for District Playoffs in 10 days!

“I called our family doctor, and he gave me the name of a very good orthopedic specialist”, says your mom, as you hobble into the kitchen. “I made an appointment with Dr. Smith next Monday at four.” “NEXT MONDAY!” you exclaim. “But that’s not for six days, and Districts start that Friday! If I have to wait that long to see a doctor, I’ll never be ready to play!” “This doctor is the best, and it’s the soonest he can see you. We also need time because he wants you to get an MRI of your ankle.” “An MRI”, you question. “Why do I need an MRI? It’s just a sprain.” “The doctor wants an MRI before he sees you, so that’s what we’re going to do.” “Why can’t I just go see Dr. Michelle at Kinetic Physical Therapy? She’s treated me before and knows me really well.” “You have to get a prescription from the doctor before you can go to PT”, your mother reminds you. “Mom, Pennsylvania has Direct Access. I don’t need a prescription.” “Direct Access? What’s that?” asks your mom. “Direct Access means I can go see my physical therapist for up to 30 days without a prescription. And our insurance will pay for it. This way, I can get started on rehabbing my ankle right away. And I know Dr. Michelle will do everything she can to get me ready for Districts.” “Are you sure about that?” asks your mom. “Positive. You can even call Kinetic and ask.” “OK, I’ll call Kinetic right now.”

I don’t have to tell you how this story ends, but I will. You see Dr. Michelle, she evaluates your ankle, gets you started rehabbing immediately, and with her skill, your determination, and a little luck, you’re in the starting lineup for the first District Playoff game.

Yes, this story is fictional, but Direct Access is REAL. Just like you told your mom, the state of Pennsylvania has Direct Access, which allows you to see your physical therapist for up to 30 days without a physician prescription. YOUR physical therapist is a Doctorate level professional, a movement specialist, and a first contact provider. YOUR physical therapist will perform a thorough, FULL BODY examination, identify your movement impairments, and recognize any red flags that may necessitate referral to another health care provider (e.g. your pediatrician). YOUR physical therapist will then work with you to create goals that are important to you, and use those goals to develop a unique, personalized treatment plan. YOUR physical therapist has the knowledge and the skill to help you get back on the playing field and stay there. Did you know that with some common orthopedic conditions, going to a physical therapist first saves you and your insurance company thousands of dollars?

So, the next time an injury puts you on the sideline, don’t stay there long. Contact YOUR physical therapist at Kinetic. We specialize in “moving athletes back to the field”!

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