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Home Health vs. Outpatient Physical Therapy: Which Is Right For Me?

February 24th, 2023 | 3 min. read

Home Health vs. Outpatient Physical Therapy: Which Is Right For Me?
Jenny Tesley

Jenny Tesley

Licensed Physical Therapist, PT, DPT // EW Motion Therapy Tuscaloosa

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Regarding physical therapy, there are many types of care. Two important subtypes are home health physical therapy and outpatient physical therapy. Both types of physical therapy can help you manage and treat injuries and improve strength and flexibility. But the differences between home health and outpatient physical therapy may be significant when deciding which type is right for you. At EW Motion Therapy, we love seeing patients in our outpatient clinics and helping them return to their favorite activities. Even if you decide our services do not fit your needs, read on for a closer look at home health physical therapy and outpatient physical therapy to help you understand the differences between them and make an informed decision. 


Download our Physical Therapy Q&A Here!


What is home health physical therapy?

Home health physical therapy is a type of therapy that is provided in the patient’s own home rather than at a clinic or hospital. It is administered by licensed physical therapists who come to the patient’s home to provide individualized treatment. Home health physical therapy is generally appropriate for people with chronic illnesses or conditions like stroke, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, or spinal cord injuries. It may also be beneficial for those who are recovering from surgery or have limited mobility. Home health physical therapy allows patients to receive one-on-one care and instruction in their homes while maintaining social distancing guidelines. This type of physical therapy focuses on helping patients regain strength, balance, and range of motion so they can safely and independently return to their normal activities of daily living. 


What is outpatient physical therapy? 

Outpatient physical therapy is a form of physical therapy in a clinic or hospital rather than at a patient's home. It typically involves the therapist providing personalized treatments to help the patient reach their goals, such as increasing strength and mobility, improving balance and coordination, and restoring range of motion. Outpatient physical therapy can also involve treatments to reduce pain, swelling, and other symptoms. The benefits of outpatient physical therapy include improved quality of life, increased independence, and enhanced recovery from injury or surgery. 


Furthermore, outpatient physical therapy can help patients maintain their progress and prevent future issues by teaching them proper exercise techniques, ergonomics, posture, and other self-care strategies. Treating in a location outside of the patient’s home can be an opportunity to challenge their ability to adapt to new places and therefore succeed in various community settings. 


Which type of physical therapy is right for me?

Home health physical therapy is administered in the comfort of your own home. It allows you to receive treatment at your convenience, with a physical therapist visiting your house. This type of care typically involves more frequent visits and comprehensive follow-up care than outpatient physical therapy. Home health physical therapy is often recommended for those with difficulty getting around or living far away from a physical therapy clinic. The home health physical therapy provider you choose will bill your insurance directly for your treatment, so it can also be beneficial to leave insurance matters in the hands of your provider. 


On the other hand, outpatient physical therapy involves going to a physical therapist’s office or an outpatient clinic for scheduled treatments. This type of care is typically done in a progression, with home health physical therapy potentially being a previous step. Still, it ultimately depends on the patient’s recovery stage. Outpatient physical therapy can also be less expensive than home health physical therapy, as it doesn’t involve travel costs or fees associated with in-home visits.


Whether your physician recommends home health and outpatient physical therapy depends on your needs. If you need more frequent or intensive care or cannot get out of the house quickly, home health physical therapy may be the right choice, though it can be very difficult to qualify for the service on most insurance plans. On the other hand, outpatient physical therapy may be the best option if you don’t need as much care or can travel to a clinic for appointments. Ultimately, discussing your options with your doctor or physical therapist is important to decide which care is right for you. We enjoy creating customized care plans for our outpatient clients at EW Motion Therapy. If you are curious about what else physical therapy can do for you, click the button below to download our answers to 20 frequently-asked physical therapy questions.

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