As clinicians, we are well aware of the advantages of a team approach to prosthetic rehabilitation. In school we are taught the benefits of the patient-centered model to rehabilitation after amputation and the positive impact it has on clinical outcomes. Perhaps, as O&P professionals, we have an acute appreciation for the importance of a multidisciplinary team approach because we have been advocating for our place on the team for years. Our role as medical professionals was most recently recognized with legislation that detailed the inclusion of our clinical documentation as part of the official medical record for purposes of determining medical necessity by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Given our appreciation for the team approach, I am surprised by the number of colleagues I speak to across the country who are not routinely utilizing a physical therapy evaluation for new prosthetic episodes of care. Often, referral to physical therapy is only done shortly after an initial amputation or after significant changes to a patient’s condition. I firmly believe this is a missed opportunity to strengthen the multidisciplinary team approach to prosthetic care and improve clinical outcomes, regardless of the patient presentation. In addition, including a physical therapist (PT) at the time of initial evaluation is extremely valuable in formulating the treatment plan and strengthening clinical documentation. This results in more effective insurance authorizations and successful claims.