April 30, 2024
10 minutes

What You Need to Know About In-Home Physical Therapy

Discover the benefits of in-home physical therapy. Get the facts on insurance coverage and what to expect during your sessions.

Understanding In-Home Physical Therapy

In-home physical therapy is a form of rehabilitation that takes place within the comfort of a patient's home. It is designed for individuals who are unable to leave their house for physical therapy due to various reasons, such as injury, illness, or inability to travel [1]. This type of therapy brings the benefits of professional care directly to the patient's doorstep, allowing them to receive necessary treatment in a familiar and convenient environment.

Definition and Benefits

Home-care physical therapy occurs when a licensed physical therapist delivers rehabilitation services to patients at home. It aims to help individuals regain mobility, strength, and function, enabling them to return to their normal activities of daily living. In-home physical therapy can be as effective as the care received in a hospital or skilled nursing facility. Some benefits of in-home physical therapy include:

  • Convenience: By receiving therapy at home, patients can avoid the need for transportation and the associated challenges of traveling to a clinic or facility.
  • Comfort: Being in a familiar environment can enhance comfort and relaxation during therapy sessions.
  • Personalized Care: In-home physical therapy allows for personalized attention and tailored treatment plans based on the individual's specific needs and goals.
  • Improved Outcomes: In-home therapy can support individuals in their recovery journey and help them regain independence and functionality within their home environment.

Insurance Coverage

Most insurance plans in the United States cover in-home physical therapy if significant barriers prevent patients from leaving their homes, such as injury, illness, or inability to travel. It is important to note that insurance may not cover in-home physical therapy if it is chosen solely for convenience purposes. Patients should consult with their insurance provider to understand the coverage and any specific requirements or limitations.

Understanding the definition and benefits of in-home physical therapy, as well as the insurance coverage available, can help individuals make informed decisions about their rehabilitation options. In the following sections, we will delve into the referral process, evaluation and treatment procedures, comparisons with outpatient care, patient outcomes, and other important aspects of receiving in-home physical therapy.

Receiving In-Home Physical Therapy

For individuals who are unable to leave their homes due to injury, illness, or other reasons, in-home physical therapy provides a valuable solution. This type of therapy involves a physical therapist coming to your home to provide rehabilitation services, allowing you to receive the necessary care and treatment in the comfort of your own surroundings.

Referral Process

The first step to receiving in-home physical therapy is to be referred by your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will assess your condition and determine whether in-home physical therapy is medically necessary due to your inability to leave the house or other significant barriers. They will provide the necessary documentation and attest to the medical necessity of home services.

Evaluation and Treatment

Once the referral process is complete, an evaluation and treatment plan will be established for your in-home physical therapy sessions. The initial session will typically involve a comprehensive assessment, where the physical therapist will gather information about your medical history, musculoskeletal function, and level of physical activity. This evaluation helps the therapist understand your specific needs and develop a personalized treatment plan.

During the evaluation, the physical therapist will assess your range of motion, strength, balance, and functional mobility. They may also evaluate your ability to perform daily tasks within the home environment, such as showering, dressing, and navigating stairs. This comprehensive assessment serves as a baseline for tracking your progress throughout the therapy process.

After the evaluation, the physical therapist will design a treatment plan tailored to your specific goals and needs. In-home physical therapy sessions focus on improving functional mobility within the home, enhancing daily tasks, and implementing exercises and activities to address your specific condition or injury. The treatment plan may include therapeutic exercises, manual therapy, pain management techniques, and education on home exercise programs.

The duration and frequency of in-home physical therapy sessions will vary depending on your unique needs. On average, each session typically lasts between 30 and 90 minutes. The frequency of sessions will be determined by your therapist based on your condition and treatment goals. They will work with you to establish a schedule that allows for consistent progress and optimal outcomes.

In-home physical therapy sessions are usually conducted by licensed physical therapists or physical therapy assistants. Physical therapists undergo extensive education, earning a doctor of physical therapy degree, passing a national licensure exam, and obtaining a state license before practicing. Physical therapy assistants work under the supervision of physical therapists and provide support during the therapy process.

In-home physical therapy can offer impactful results for individuals seeking to regain their normal activities of daily living (ADLs) after surgery, illness, injury, or other conditions. It provides a convenient and cost-effective option for receiving therapy in the comfort of your own home [2]. The personalized approach and individualized care provided by in-home physical therapy can help you achieve your rehabilitation goals and improve your overall quality of life.

Effectiveness of In-Home Physical Therapy

When considering physical therapy options, it's important to evaluate the effectiveness of in-home physical therapy compared to outpatient care. Understanding the outcomes associated with in-home physical therapy can help individuals make informed decisions about their rehabilitation journey.

Comparisons with Outpatient Care

A study conducted in 2016 on functional outcomes of patients after total knee replacement surgery found that having physical therapy at home followed by outpatient therapy did not provide significant benefits over outpatient therapy alone. However, it's worth noting that this study focused specifically on knee replacement patients.

On the other hand, a small study showed improved outcomes and patient satisfaction with in-home therapy after a stroke. Individuals suffering from upper extremity hemiparesis and weakness after a stroke demonstrated improved outcomes and satisfaction after receiving treatment through home physical therapy [3].

Patient Outcomes

In-home physical therapy can offer impactful results for individuals returning to their normal activities of daily living (ADLs) after a surgery, illness, injury, or other conditions. It allows patients to undergo therapy in the comfort of their own homes, providing convenience and potentially reducing stress associated with traveling to outpatient facilities.

In-home physical therapy can be as effective as care received in a hospital or skilled nursing facility. This type of therapy is particularly beneficial for patients with impairments or chronic health conditions, as it helps reduce hospital readmissions by providing continuing rehabilitation and support services at home. By receiving therapy at home, patients may experience fewer emergency room visits and hospital readmissions, resulting in significant cost savings for the healthcare system [4].

It's important to note that the effectiveness of in-home physical therapy can vary depending on individual circumstances and the specific condition being treated. Working closely with a licensed physical therapist or physical therapist assistant can help determine the most suitable treatment plan and optimize outcomes.

Overall, in-home physical therapy can be a valuable option for individuals seeking rehabilitation services. It offers convenience, personalized care, and the potential for comparable outcomes to traditional outpatient care. Discussing the options with a healthcare provider can help determine whether in-home physical therapy is the right choice for an individual's specific needs.

In-Home Physical Therapy Sessions

When undergoing in-home physical therapy, it is important to understand the duration, frequency, and focus of the sessions. This information can help individuals prepare for their rehabilitation journey and set realistic expectations for their recovery.

Duration and Frequency

The duration of in-home physical therapy sessions can vary based on the individual's needs and health concerns. Typically, sessions last between 30 and 90 minutes [2]. The exact length of each session will be determined by the therapist based on the treatment plan and the goals to be achieved.

The frequency of in-home physical therapy sessions also varies depending on the individual's condition and the doctor's orders. Some individuals may require sessions multiple times per week, while others may have sessions less frequently. The number of sessions needed for rehabilitation can range from a few weeks to several months, depending on the progress and condition of the patient.

Focus and Progression

During in-home physical therapy sessions, the focus is on addressing the specific needs and goals of the individual. The therapist will tailor the exercises and treatments to target areas of weakness, pain, or limited mobility. The sessions may include a combination of exercises, stretches, manual therapy, and functional training to improve strength, flexibility, and overall function.

As the individual progresses in their rehabilitation journey, the focus of the sessions may evolve. The therapist will continuously assess the individual's progress and adjust the treatment plan accordingly. This progression ensures that the therapy remains effective and aligned with the individual's changing needs.

It is important for individuals undergoing in-home physical therapy to actively participate in their sessions and follow the therapist's instructions for exercises and home care. Consistency and adherence to the treatment plan can contribute to better outcomes and a faster recovery.

Understanding the duration, frequency, and focus of in-home physical therapy sessions allows individuals to plan and prepare for their rehabilitation journey. By working closely with their therapist and actively engaging in the treatment process, individuals can maximize the benefits of in-home physical therapy and regain their mobility, function, and overall well-being.

Providers of In-Home Physical Therapy

In-home physical therapy involves the provision of rehabilitation services within a patient's home by a licensed physical therapist or physical therapy assistant. These professionals play a crucial role in helping individuals regain mobility, manage pain, and improve their overall physical function. Let's take a closer look at the qualifications of these providers and the typical session structure.


To practice in-home physical therapy, physical therapists must meet specific qualifications. According to Forbes, physical therapists must earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from an accredited program. After completing their education, they must pass a national licensure exam and obtain a state license before practicing. This rigorous process ensures that physical therapists have the necessary knowledge and skills to provide effective treatment.

Physical therapy assistants, on the other hand, work under the supervision of physical therapists. They typically hold an associate degree from an accredited program and are licensed or certified by their respective states. While physical therapy assistants provide valuable support, it is the physical therapist who is responsible for evaluating patients, developing treatment plans, and overseeing the overall care.

Session Structure

In-home physical therapy sessions are designed to be personalized and tailored to each patient's specific needs. The session structure may vary depending on the patient's condition and goals, but generally, it follows a similar framework.

  1. Initial Evaluation: The first session involves a comprehensive evaluation conducted by the physical therapist. This assessment helps the therapist understand the patient's mobility, strength, range of motion, and any specific areas of concern. The therapist may also review the patient's medical history and discuss their goals for therapy.
  2. Treatment Plan Development: Based on the evaluation, the physical therapist develops a personalized treatment plan. This plan outlines the specific exercises, techniques, and interventions that will be implemented to address the patient's needs. The therapist may also collaborate with other healthcare professionals, caregivers, and the patient's medical team to ensure comprehensive care.
  3. Ongoing Therapy Sessions: Subsequent sessions focus on implementing the treatment plan and monitoring the patient's progress. The physical therapist guides the patient through various exercises and therapeutic activities aimed at improving strength, flexibility, balance, and functional mobility. These sessions may also involve the use of specialized equipment or modalities to enhance the therapeutic outcomes.
  4. Progress Evaluation and Adjustment: Periodically, the physical therapist reassesses the patient's progress and adjusts the treatment plan accordingly. This evaluation helps determine if any modifications are needed to optimize the therapy and achieve the desired outcomes. The therapist may also provide education on injury prevention, self-care techniques, and strategies for maintaining progress outside of therapy sessions.

By working closely with patients, caregivers, and the home health care team, in-home physical therapy providers facilitate a collaborative approach to rehabilitation. They strive to create a supportive and safe environment for patients to regain their independence and improve their quality of life within the comfort of their own homes.

Cost Considerations

When considering in-home physical therapy, understanding the cost implications is an important aspect to consider. The cost can be influenced by factors such as insurance coverage and out-of-pocket expenses.

Insurance Coverage

Private insurance coverage for home health care services varies greatly, with some plans covering everything while others may have limitations and exceptions. It is crucial to understand the specifics of one's insurance policy to determine coverage for home health care.

Types of services covered by private insurance for home health care may include skilled nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and personal care services provided by aides. However, coverage may be subject to pre-authorization from a medical practitioner, and limitations such as time restrictions on the number of permitted visits may apply [6].

Proper documentation and reporting are essential for insurance companies covering home health care services. Maintaining accurate records of care provided, progress reports, and compliance with treatment regimens is crucial to avoid denials of coverage.

Physical therapy (PT) may be covered by health insurance, either partly or in full, depending on the insurance plan and the medical necessity of PT. Private insurance plans, Medicare, and worker's compensation insurance can potentially cover PT costs [7].

Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Even if physical therapy is fully covered by insurance, there may still be out-of-pocket expenses to consider. Co-pays for each physical therapy session can range from $25 to $100, with an average co-payment of about $25 to $35 per session.

Physical therapy sessions often require several visits per week for weeks or months, depending on the individual's recovery. With multiple sessions, even small co-payments can accumulate over time.

In cases where physical therapy is not covered by insurance or only partially covered, individuals will have to pay for the therapy out of pocket. The cost can vary depending on the type of treatment and duration of therapy. Minor injuries may cost less than $100 with insurance coverage, while major surgeries can result in significant out-of-pocket expenses.

To help lower the cost of therapy sessions, physical therapy offices may offer sliding scale payment plans based on income or interest-free payment plans. It is important to discuss affordable options with the physical therapist to ensure access to necessary care.

Considering insurance coverage and out-of-pocket expenses is essential in determining the financial implications of in-home physical therapy. It is recommended to review insurance policies, communicate with insurance providers, and explore available options to make informed decisions about the cost of treatment.


Related Articles