Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation on July 1 that grants direct access to physical therapy to the state’s residents. With this new law, patients will be able to go directly to a physical therapist for evaluation and treatment without a referral from a physician. According to a news release from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), with the enactment of SB 690, Michigan joins 49 other states and the District of Columbia in adopting some level of direct access to treatment by physical therapists without the need for a referral.

SB 690, sponsored by Senator John Moolenaar, creates the option for patients to see a physical therapist without a referral or prescription from a physician for up to 21 days or 10 treatment visits. The new law will also allow patients to see a physical therapist directly for injury prevention and fitness promotion, with no time or visit limit, as indicated on the APTA news release. The new bill also specifies that only licensed physical therapists may use the term “doctor of physical therapy” in connection with their services.

The new Michigan law will take effect January 1, 2015. Paul A. Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS, states, “This is a significant milestone for the people of Michigan, and for the physical therapy profession. APTA has long advocated for improved patient access to physical therapists, and I applaud Michigan’s achievement in making this policy a reality.”

Craig Miller, PT, legislative director of the Michigan Physical Therapy Association (MPTA), says, “This is not only a victory for physical therapists in our state, but more importantly represents a great benefit to the people of Michigan who need the services of physical therapists.” Miller adds, “SB 690 will better equip physical therapists in Michigan to help our state achieve the triple aim of health care—to provide high-quality care that is cost effective and accessible for the health care consumer.”

[Source: APTA]