Homebound or Not?
Do you need outpatient physical therapy or with home care physical therapy be better for your situation? This can be it confusing question for some.
Let’s look at the differences between these two services in this article. It may help clarify what’s most appropriate for you and your situation.
For those using their Medicare benefit, they require that anyone receiving home physical therapy must be “homebound”.
That simply means is that it takes a lot of effort on your part or the part of the caregiver to get you out of the house.
This could mean that you need a wheelchair or walker to leave the home safely. And it could also mean that it may be unsafe for you to leave the house by yourself and you need someone with you.
But, just because you may qualify as “homebound” doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have physical therapy in the home. You can still go to outpatient therapy if that would be better for you.
One consideration to keep in mind about going to an outpatient clinic is that you’ll need reliable transportation. If this is an issue, home care may be your best option.
In general people who need home care physical therapy have difficulty moving around their home safely. Or, they may require special equipment and training on that equipment to help make living in the home more convenient or safer.
One other reason for home care physical therapy is for caregiver training or family caregiver training in the home environment. Oftentimes family caregivers can receive better training in the home with everyday routines.
Am I Ready For Outpatient Physical Therapy?
Outpatient physical therapy may be more appropriate for you if 1. you do not have difficulty moving around your home. Number 2. if your prime goal of physical therapy is strengthening. And, 3. if you have chronic pain issues.
The outpatient physical therapist usually has access to more equipment than the home care physical therapist. This equipment can range anywhere from exercise equipment such as weight lifting machines, exercise bicycles, pain relieving modalities like electronic stim machines or therapeutic ultrasound machines.
And most of the time there’s more room to do exercises and mat tables that exercises can be performed on or patients can be re-positioned on to do particular exercises.
From my experience doing exercises on the mat tables is a lot easier than doing exercise on your bed or on your floor at home.
Another frequently overlooked benefit of going to outpatient physical therapy is that of socialization. Physical therapists have long understood that patients perform better when they realize that they’re not alone with their health challenges.
Going to an outpatient physical therapy clinic allows a person to understand that there are other people with challenging problems too.
And because they get to meet these people they are able to form bonds and a camamraderie that helps them participate in physical therapy more fully.
The Bottom Line
So in summary whether you need home care physical therapy or outpatient physical therapy is really dependent upon your specific needs.
If you are not functioning well at home, or if you don’t have the right type of equipment at home, or if your family caregiver or hired caregiver needs training to help assist you with your mobility in the home, then a home care physical therapy referral is probably appropriate for you.
On the other hand if you are mobilizing at home fairly well, do not need any equipment, and your primary need for physical therapy is strengthening, and transportation is not an issue, then a referral to outpatient physical therapy is probably appropriate for you.
Make sure to talk with your doctor about each of these areas to make sure the best referral is made.