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Physical therapy helps elders recover from injuries and illnesses, manage chronic conditions, and prevent future injuries. It can be an essential component of health care for older adults.
Medicare covers physical therapy (PT) when it is medically necessary to treat a disease or injury, according to Medicare.gov. Those who qualify for Medicare because of age or disability could receive covered physical therapy services.
Physical therapy helps people improve their balance, movement, muscle strength, joint mobility, and overall health. Highly trained professionals specializing in activity and exercise prescribe exercises to help patients enhance their physical capabilities and control pain.
Older adults can require physical therapy for several reasons. Following a health incident, such as a neurological event, surgery, or a fall, physical therapy can help a patient restore mobility. For instance, a physical therapist could help a stroke patient regain movement. WebMD reports that physical therapists can also help older adults with such conditions as osteoporosis, balance problems, certain cancers, and incontinence.
PT helps people recover from injuries and manage chronic conditions, while also reducing the risk of future injuries. In addition, it may help prevent injuries and mitigate functional declines associated with aging, according to the National Council on Aging.
In treating and preventing injuries, physical therapy can benefit many older adults, as it helps restore and maintain physical health. PT may:
Given the benefits of physical therapy, Medicare recipients might seek services to treat injuries, manage chronic conditions, and maintain physical health.
Medicare helps cover the cost of PT in certain circumstances. A doctor or another health care provider, such as a nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, or physician assistant, must certify that the patient needs physical therapy.
Qualifying beneficiaries can get covered PT services via Medicare Part A or Part B.
This includes PT in any of the following:
Medicare Part B also covers in-home PT when an individual does not receive Part A home health benefits.
Once individuals pay the Part B deductible, which is $226 in 2023, Medicare covers outpatient PT. When coverage kicks in, beneficiaries are responsible for 20 percent of the Medicare-approved payment. This may include outpatient occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology.
Be sure to ask your health care provider any questions you may have about coverage for PT services or related tests. Speak with an elder law attorney in your area as well to learn more about Medicare.