Professional Therapy Associates Spotlights the Advantages of Patients’ Direct Access to Physical Therapy in Montana

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Montana’s Direct Access to Physical Therapy Gives Patients Freedom of Choice and Can Reduce Costs, According to Professional Therapy Associates

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It’s important for patients to understand that they have the right to choose where to go for treatment, especially if they suspect their condition can best be treated with physical therapy

Due to recent changes, State law* allows direct access to physical therapy in Montana; yet many residents are unaware they have the right to seek treatment without a physician’s prescription or referral. Blaine Stimac, owner and CEO of Professional Therapy Associates, maintains that Montana’s direct access laws offer many benefits to patients, including freedom of choice, lower healthcare costs and the ability to begin physical therapy treatment sooner.

“It’s important for patients to understand that they have the right to choose where to go for treatment, especially if they suspect their condition can best be treated with physical therapy,” said Stimac. “Many people put off seeking the care they need because they assume they have to set aside time and money for multiple office visits. Or it may take a while to get an appointment with their physician, so they’ll wait and see if the pain goes away on its own. The problem is that delaying treatment can make underlying problems worse. There’s no reason for anyone to take that risk when physical therapy treatment is readily available through Montana’s direct access laws.”

By scheduling an evaluation directly with a physical therapist, patients can avoid making a separate appointment with their physician for the sole purpose of requesting a referral. “This not only saves them time, but also the cost of an additional co-pay or office visit,” remarked Stimac. “In addition, it enables patients to start treatment sooner – which can prevent days or weeks of unnecessary suffering. Whether they’re dealing with back pain, repetitive strain, stiff joints or other musculoskeletal problems, they key to relief is to get a treatment plan underway as quickly as possible.”

Stimac’s assertions are supported by a recent study published in Health Services Research. The research team found that patients who scheduled outpatient care directly with a physical therapist averaged fewer healthcare visits and lower overall costs than those who were referred by a physician. The study’s findings are good news for patients in direct-access states like Montana.

To help Montanans determine if their condition can be treated by physical therapy, Professional Therapy Associates is offering free consultations at its four clinics throughout the Flathead Valley. Prospective new patients can request a free health screening with one of the practice’s highly trained physical therapists, who will assess the individual’s symptoms and complaints, and evaluate movements and body mechanics. The therapist may demonstrate a few simple stretches or exercises that can help alleviate pain or stiffness, and will schedule a full evaluation for those who could benefit from physical therapy treatment. In cases where medical attention may be required, the therapist will refer the individual to a physician or specialist who can perform further tests or X-rays.

“Our free physical therapy consultations offer a no-risk way for local residents to determine if physical therapy is right for them – there is no co-pay, and they don’t have to go through insurance,” noted Stimac. “For those who opt to pursue treatment, we’ll develop a customized treatment plan that is both effective and affordable. We accept most forms of insurance, and we also offer payment plans.”

Stimac takes pride in the fact that Professional Therapy Associates’ physical therapists and staff are “like a family.” He elaborated by explaining, “We all work together to ensure our patients receive the highest quality care, and we’ll make certain they see a therapist who has experience and success in treating their particular condition. In addition to top-notch therapists, we have state-of-the-art facilities with the latest equipment, and we even have a pool for aquatic therapy. Most importantly, we have a track record of proven results – we help our clients achieve freedom from pain and regain full mobility. That’s why I’d encourage anyone suffering from aches, pain or stiffness to take advantage of our free consultation and Montana’s direct access to physical therapy services.”

Individuals who wish to schedule a free consultation may call any of Professional Therapy Associates’ four centers in the Flathead Valley region, including Downtown Kalispell – 406-257-5610, Kalispell North – 406-756-7878, Whitefish – 406-862-5033 and Columbia Falls – 406-892-7999. For further information on Professional Therapy Associates – including physical therapy treatments, staff and locations – please visit

About Professional Therapy Associates and Blaine Stimac
Professional Therapy Associates (PTA) is an established provider of physical therapy in Montana. Founded in Kalispell in 1988, the practice has expanded to include four convenient locations throughout Flathead Valley. In addition to its flagship Kalispell North facility, PTA also has clinics in Downtown Kalispell (Flathead Health and Fitness), Whitefish (The Wave) and Columbia Falls (Columbia Falls Clinic). Owner and CEO Blaine Stimac is a licensed Physical Therapist in Montana, and holds a Master of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Montana. He and his team offer a full range of services, including manual physical therapy, sports medicine, therapeutic exercise and biofeedback, as well as treatment for back and neck injuries, motor vehicle injuries and work-related injuries. For more information, visit

  • Montana Code Annotated 2011. “37-11-104. Physical therapy – evaluation and treatment.”

** Pendergast, Jane, et al. “A Comparison of Health Care Use for Physician-Referred and Self-Referred Episodes of Outpatient Physical Therapy.” Health Services Research; published online September 23, 2011.

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Karla Jo Helms Ciotti
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