Discover the specifics of at-home physical therapy and whether it’s right for you.

Navigating the realm of physical therapy can feel like walking through a maze, especially when deciding which route is best for your recovery.

Not everyone qualifies for at-home physical therapy, but for those who do, it can be tremendously helpful in improving your mobility without the hassle of leaving your home.

Physical therapy can indeed be done at home. Although many conditions requiring physical therapy typically start with a visit to your local physical therapist, they’ll likely send you home with exercises to be performed on a regular basis.

In other cases, a physical therapist may come directly to your home for all physical therapy sessions. This is a specialized type of care called at-home therapy, which is usually carried out by therapists who specialize in that area.

Can you do physical therapy on your own?

While it’s encouraged to do certain physical therapy exercises on your own, it’s not necessarily as effective as having a professional guide you, according to Andrew Chin, DPT, of Insight Rehab & Wellness in Bethel, Connecticut.

A physical therapist is trained to recognize movement patterns and identify any issues you may not notice on your own. They also ensure you’re performing exercises correctly and safely to reduce the risk of injury.

Dr. Chin said that “almost all forms of physical therapy include a home exercise program. While each program is different, they generally consist of strategic exercises to be performed when you’re not with your physical therapist.”

It’s also necessary to continue to see your physical therapist for any program changes that may be needed. This ensures that you’re continually challenged in a manner that supports proper recovery.

What are at-home physical therapists?

At-home physical therapists are licensed professionals who come directly to your home to provide treatment. They can bring specialized equipment and provide hands-on therapy, tailoring a treatment plan that fits your specific needs and goals.

A staple of both at-home and in-office physical therapy treatment is a technique called manual therapy. It consists of certain hands-on techniques, such as massage and joint mobilization. Both of these techniques must be performed by a physical therapist.

Notably, the rise of telehealth has extended at-home physical therapy services even further. Telehealth physical therapy allows you to consult with a professional therapist via video conferencing.

At-home physical therapy offers several advantages:

  • It saves travel time.
  • You can exercise in the comfort of your home.
  • It allows your physical therapist to evaluate your home for safety.

“One of the most advantageous parts of at-home physical therapy is that we get to see you in your own environment, where you spend a lot of your time,” said Anthony Peburn, PT, IMT, of Insight Rehab & Wellness.

“This is helpful because if you’re having difficulty with certain obstacles, such as stairs, I can see exactly why your stairs are difficult to navigate,” he said. “Ultimately, this helps me tailor a specific routine around the mobility obstacles you face at home.”

At-home physical therapy may also be as effective as in-office therapy, according to a small 2016 study. The study showed no difference in overall gain of function after knee surgery in those prescribed either in-office or at-home therapy. However, the study noted that in-office functional gains occurred sooner.

While at-home physical therapy has its benefits, it’s important to follow safety precautions.

Dr. Chin stressed the importance of having enough room to move freely and complete the exercises without being restricted by space.

“Problems for a lot of folks come up when the space they’re trying to work in is too cluttered. Keep an eye out for low obstacles that can lead to tripping hazards, especially if you’re balance-compromised,” Dr. Chin said.

Here are some tips to help properly carry out physical therapy in your home:

  • Clear out any clutter in the areas you plan to use for exercises.
  • Always stick to the appropriate form during exercises to avoid injury.
  • Ensure that your clothing and sneakers cannot get snagged on your carpet during exercise.

At-home physical therapy can benefit many people, but it’s typically reserved for those who are home-bound. You may also qualify under the following circumstances:

  • staying home is recommended due to your health condition
  • it’s difficult to leave home without assistance from a person or device
  • leaving your home is a major effort

However, the appropriateness of at-home physical therapy depends on individual circumstances and the type of therapy needed, so it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional.

Does insurance cover at-home PT?

Coverage for at-home physical therapy varies by insurance company and policy. Many insurance plans do cover at-home physical therapy, but there may be restrictions or requirements, such as a physician’s referral or proof that you’re unable to leave your home.

According to Dr. Chin, “I commonly see that Medicare patients qualify for at-home physical therapy, though many insurance companies do cover it.”

At-home physical therapy is more than just a convenient alternative. It can be an empowering approach to taking control of your health. With the right guidance and safety measures, you can transform your living space into a healing space.

Whether you’re managing chronic pain, recovering from surgery, or experiencing mobility issues, at-home physical therapy brings the care and expertise you need right to your doorstep. Consider speaking with your healthcare professional to determine if at-home physical therapy is right for you.