An upcoming vote in the Illinois Legislature could change the scope of practice for physical therapists in our state, and we’re reaching out to let you know how you can help.
Dear Patient Community,
I hope you’re well and enjoying your summer. I am writing to you to ask for your help. As you know, in the last year we have begun using a technique called dry needling at Andersonville Physical Therapy. Dry needling is highly effective for treating stubborn trigger points in the muscles that massage cannot reach. This extremely powerful healing technique has been game-changing in my practice, and we’ve had phenomenal results using it as a complement to our care.
Last April the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation issued an informal opinion that the scope of practice for physical therapists in Illinois does not include any invasive techniques, and therefore, dry needling. Read more on the issue here.
However, physical therapists have been performing various invasive techniques for decades. Early in my career, for example, I did sharps debridement of wounds at the University of Illinois and University of Chicago Hospitals, and we at A.P.T. currently perform internal exams for men and women with pelvic dysfunction.
Basically, some in the acupuncture community have made efforts to block physical therapists from using this technique because dry needling, like acupuncture, involves the use of needles. Dry needling is not acupuncture. Acupuncture is based on preserving the ancient theories, principles, and tenets of traditional Chinese medicine. Dry needling utilizes the same tool but is based on western neuroanatomy and modern scientific study of the musculoskeletal and nervous system.
In my opinion, physical therapists are natural practitioners to perform dry needling. It is the perfect complement to our care. If, during our evaluation, we find that tight tissues are limiting motion, dry needling those tissues releases tension, (often long standing), and jump starts healing. We use it concurrently with joint mobilization, stretching, strengthening and education so the body is better able to realign, get strong and move more fluidly.
When using dry needling, we have found that our patients progress more quickly and require fewer physical therapy treatment sessions. Because more and more insurance companies are implementing utilization review to limit the number of approved physical therapy visits, it is especially imperative that we have access to tools that will help our patients reach their goals in a timely manner.
If the Legislature decides that dry needling is not in the scope of physical therapy practice, patients in Illinois would need to see medical doctors to have it covered by insurance. Physicians can and should do dry needling, but generally do not have the time to perform the technique. This is a health care access and cost savings issue, but unfortunately, it has become a turf war.
There is a chance that this issue will go to vote in the fall with the Illinois legislature, so we are working to assemble letters from our patients who have experienced and benefited from dry needling. Will you write a letter sharing your experience?
The letter should be addressed to the Illinois State Legislature and should begin, “I experienced dry needling at Andersonville Physical Therapy, and…” Feel free to email the letter directly to me (email@example.com). Anything you’d like to include regarding the progress you made with dry needling as part of your physical therapy care would be greatly appreciated! In addition, we encourage you to call your legislator in his or her district office to voice your support for the use of dry needles in PT practice.
Thank you so much, and I look forward to hearing from you!
Pat Staszak, PT, Owner
Andersonville Physical Therapy