A new law signed by Governor John P. de Jongh Jr grants residents of the US Virgin Islands direct access to physical therapy services. A news report from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) indicates that the law allows for direct access to evaluation and treatment by a physical therapist (PT) without referral from a physician. Prior to the newly passed law, a physician referral was required for all PT services.
The law will take effect on October 9, 2014, which allows for treatment without a referral for 45 days or 12 treatment visits.
According to the APTA news release, the law also includes changes to the licensing law that protect the term “physical therapy” as an activity that can only be engaged in by a PT.
The new law also provides title protection for “DPT” and “doctor of physical therapy,” an updated definition for the practice of physical therapy, an expanded board of physical therapy, and revised qualifications for licensure, as indicated on the APTA news release.
Jerry Smith, PT, DPT, ATC, APTA member in the Virgin Islands, says, “It’s been a long time coming, but consumers will now have greater access to quality health care provided by physical therapists. These changes could not have happened without the work of the physical therapy community here.”
Paul Rockar, Jr, PT, DPT, MS, APTA president, states, “APTA commends the work of the dedicated physical therapists in the US Virgin Islands who worked for many years to bring about these legislative changes.” Rockar adds, “Improved patient access to PT services continues to be a high priority for the profession and APTA.”