Early Access to Physical Therapy and Specialty Care Management for American Workers With Musculoskeletal Injuries.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of very early access to physical therapy and specialty care management in a workers' compensation population.

METHODS

A prospective pilot (n = 75) was conducted from 2012 to 2013 in which injured workers with musculoskeletal complaints received physical therapy and started care management during their initial occupational medicine clinic visit. Two retrospective comparator groups with workers' compensation claims from 2009 and 2012 were included in this study.

RESULTS

When comparing 2009 data with the 2012 to 2013 prospective pilot study, statistically significant differences were noted in favor of the prospective pilot for total costs per claim, cost of indemnity, number of therapy visits, and time to access physical therapy. When compared with the 2012 nonpilot cohort, differences were not statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS

Expedited access to physical therapy and care management can reduce duration of care, cost of claims, and therapy visits.

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