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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need a prescription or referral?

A: Most HSS Rehabilitation centers offer direct access to physical therapy without a physician prescription. However, a prescription is needed if a person: has GHI, Worker's Compensation, Medicare, or No-Fault Insurance; has a hand or wrist injury; is under 18 years old. Prescriptions are also required for occupational and speech therapy services.

Q: What can I expect from therapy?

A: Once your initial evaluation is completed, you and your therapist will discuss your goals for therapy and the regimen necessary to achieve those goals.  Your therapist will then develop a treatment plan that will include the number of weeks you may need to come for therapy as well as the number of visits per week.  As therapy progresses, you will be given a Home Exercise Program, i.e., a number of exercises to do at home in addition to those performed at the clinic.  ).  For you to achieve and maintain maximum recovery in an optimal time, you must follow the prescribed home exercise program.

Q: When do I schedule my therapy appointments?

A: Please schedule your therapy visits 2 weeks in advance. It is your responsibility to keep track of the number of visits and your insurance.  Be sure to receive a print-out of your appointment schedule, and call ahead for cancellations or changes.

Q: What if I have an insurance question?

A: Managed Care Liaisons are on site to answer any insurance questions. Any change in insurance needs to be reported immediately. You should inform us if you have had rehabilitation elsewhere, as it may affect the number of visits allowed by your insurance provider. Coded benefit of insurance is not a guarantee of payment. If pre-certification is required, you should call before your appointment to see if the visits were approved.

Q: What if I need to cancel my appointment?

A: Out of courtesy to other patients and your therapist, it is your responsibility to cancel your appointment 24 hours in advance. If you cancel or do not show over a 30 day period, you will require a new medical prescription to continue therapy.

Q: What should I wear?

A: Please dress appropriately for your therapy appointment. Changing rooms and lockers are available for your use.  Please bring your own lock. 

Please wear comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear for these appointments.  Some suggestions: For a lower extremity evaluation and/or treatment, bring shorts; For a shoulder and/or upper extremity evaluation and/or treatment, wear a tank top.

Q: Does the hospital provide transportation to therapy?

A: For more information about transportation to the Hospital for Special Surgery, please contact the Transportation Coordinator. Tel: 212.606.1432 Fax: 212.744.4640.

Q: What if I don't live or work near Hospital for Special Surgery? How can I find an outpatient therapy practice in my area?

A: The HSS Rehabilitation Network was designed as a resource for patients who cannot use Hospital for Special Surgery for their outpatient therapy. The Network offers a comprehensive list of high quality practices throughout the Tri-State area. Refer to the Rehabilitation Network page for more information.

Q: What is a physical therapist?

A: A Physical Therapist (PT) evaluates patients and develops treatment programs in order to restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities.  A PT will review your medical history then test and measure your strength, range of motion, balance and coordination, posture, muscle performance, and motor function.  Based on clinical findings, the therapist will then determine the course of treatment necessary to achieve your desired goals and continue to assess your ability to perform activities of daily living, reintegrate into the community or workplace, or return to a specific sport.

Q: What is an occupational therapist?

A: In an orthopedic setting like the Hospital for Special Surgery, an Occupational Therapist (OT) focuses on upper extremity acute care and outpatient rehabilitation for adults and children.  Occupational therapists in the pediatric department also address cognitive, fine motor, visual-motor integration and visual perception impairments and delays.

Q: What if I can't find an answer to my question?

A: If you can't find an answer to your question in this FAQ list, please feel free to contact HSS via telephone. 212.606.1000