The Relationship of the Amount of Physical Therapy to Time Lost From Work and Costs in the Workers’ Compensation System

Physical therapy (PT) is perceived as a cost driver in the US workers' compensation system. We conducted a 5-year (2013 to 2017) retrospective analysis utilizing 192,197 claims from a large Texas based workers' compensation insurance company to describe the relationship between the amount of physical therapy delivered and workers' compensation costs and lost-time. Closed, indemnity claims with 15 or more PT visits were six times more likely (95% confidence interval [CI]: 5.50, 86.58) to result in high medical costs (>$7000, excluding PT costs) and were four times more likely (95% CI: 3.77, 4.42) to result in more than or equal to 6 months of lost-time, when controlling for confounders. When the number of PT visits more than or equal to 15 visits for a lost time claim, this level of PT exceeds all other predictors (opioid use, comorbidities, legal involvement, surgery, etc) of medical cost and extended time out from work.

Source: Leung, N., Tao, X. G. et Bernacki, E. J. (2019). Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 61(8), 635-640.

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