Direct Access

Direct access is also known as self-referral. It means you can directly access your physical therapist without a physician referral or prescription. Some form of direct access exists in every state, though the specific laws vary. South Carolina is one of 26 states that allow direct patient access to PT with some provisions:

  • If there is no physician referral and the PT treats the patient beyond 30 days from the initial evaluation, the PT must refer the patient to an appropriate healthcare provider.
  • The PT must refer the patient to an appropriate healthcare professional if the PT feels that the patient’s care goes beyond the physical therapy scope of practice.

Most insurance groups will cover physical therapy under direct access/self-referral. We will verify your benefits/coverage prior to your initial evaluation, so there won’t be any surprises. If your insurance plan does not pay for services under Direct Access, you can obtain a referral/prescription from your physician or you can pay out-of-pocket.

Scheduling a direct access appointment is as simple as calling our office and telling us that you would like to come for direct access. Your first appointment will be just like it would be if you had a physician referral. The therapist will evaluate you and determine if you could benefit from PT services.


  1. APTA Direct Access in Practice
  2. Comparison of Resource Use and Cost in Direct Physical Therapy Access Versus Physician Referral Episodes of Physical Therapy Jean M Mitchell and Gregory de Lissovoy 1997; 77:10-18. PHYS THER.