The Best Online Physical Therapy Programs of 2020

Work with a therapist on-demand

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Our Top Picks

The words “online” and “physical therapy” don’t really seem to go together, do they? Physical therapy is traditionally a very hands-on practice. However, in a digital-first world, therapy has moved online. Many physical therapy practices were already implementing online physical therapy into their treatment plans, but the whole industry has gotten on board.

You may be skeptical of online physical therapy at first, but, the truth is, you can get high-quality, physical therapy from the comfort of your home. In fact, one January 2020 study showed that virtual physical therapy helped patients recover from knee replacement surgery just as well as traditional physical therapy—and with fewer costs and a lower time burden.

If you need physical therapy but don’t want to venture out to a clinic, you have options. The following online physical therapy programs constitute some of the best ones out there.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: TheraNow

TheraNow

TheraNow

TheraNow was built on the concept of telehealth. This physical therapy practice operates entirely online and even has apps available in the App Store and on Google Play. The company features an innovative technology platform that is a pioneering, online physical therapy, with board-certified physical therapists available across the United States.

Registering for TheraNow is very easy: Just sign up online to get matched with a physical therapist. Patients have the option of meeting with the same physical therapist for each session, but you can always request a new provider if you don’t think it’s a good match. TheraNow utilizes a pay-per-session model, but depending on your health insurance, your remote visits might be covered.

Perhaps the best feature TheraNow has going for it is its multifunctional app. You can meet with your provider through the app, and your physical therapist will populate your dashboard with exercises and other treatment information. If you have any information from previous physical therapy treatments, you can upload those documents into the app so your new provider can view them.

You can log your progress in the app, too, for a visual representation of how far you’ve come.

Best for Online and In-Person: ATI Physical Therapy

ATI Physical Therapy

ATI Physical Therapy

ATI Physical Therapy offers a robust online physical therapy program, as well as in-person physical therapy in more than 25 states. Not only is ATI Physical Therapy nationally renowned for its treatment of collegiate and aspiring athletes, but the company has a long list of accolades spanning more than a decade.

Now, anyone in the U.S. can receive top-notch care from ATI Physical Therapy through the online physical therapy treatment program. ATI Physical Therapy accepts most health insurance plans but also has payment plans for patients who aren’t covered.

When you start online physical therapy with ATI, you get matched with a provider through an online screening. You can schedule your first appointment as soon as 24 hours after signing up for the service. Make sure to download the ATI Physical Therapy app, which is how you’ll stay in touch with your provider and track your progress.

Best for People Without Insurance: Physera

Physera

Physera

Physera offers a beautiful user interface and a seamless app experience with direct access to highly qualified physical therapists.

You can video chat with your provider through the HIPAA-compliant app. During your initial consultation, you’ll get a complete musculoskeletal analysis, and after that, you can access all of your treatment information, exercise demonstrations, and progress logs within the app.

Physera is a great option for people without health insurance or with insurance that doesn’t cover physical therapy. The direct-pay costs aren’t exorbitant—about $100 for your initial session and roughly $50 per session after that—and the service is well worth it. You’ll never be faced with surprise fees from Physera: It's truly a "get what you pay for" scenario.

Available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., anyone who needs online physical therapy (with or without insurance) can sign up with Physera. The app is available for iOS and Android operating systems.

Best DIY: PT Timer: Stretch and Exercise

PT Timer: Stretch and Exercise

PT Timer: Stretch and Exercise

PT Timer: Stretch and Exercise is an app available for iOS only. If you want truly DIY physical therapy, this app might be the right choice for you. It provides rehabilitation exercises customized to your pain points and recovery needs, but you can also pick and choose your own exercises.

You can take advantage of the free, one-week trial to see if PT Timer is right for you. After your week is up, you’ll have to pay for the entire functionality of the app, which includes the full exercise library, timing and counting, and on-demand technical support. The subscription price varies depending on whether you select the one-, three-, or 12-month plan; the monthly plan costs roughly $1 per month.

Take caution with this approach if you’re dealing with serious pain, nursing a new injury, or recovering from surgery. If any of those scenarios apply to you, it’s probably best to choose an online physical therapy program that allows you to interact with a provider face-to-face.

How We Chose the Best Online Physical Therapy Programs

One of Verywell’s founding principles and continuing commitments is sharing accurate, timely, inclusive health information that helps everyone reach their goals. With that in mind, we scrubbed the web for online physical therapy programs that stood out based on a variety of factors.

We looked for online physical therapy that offer their services in several states, utilize secure, HIPAA-compliant video software, have a history of success with in-person and online physical therapy, and have positive reviews from past patients.

We also analyzed the online presence of these physical therapy practices to determine how accessible the practice is, what the provider support is like, and what insurance plans the practice accepts. We’re confident that our selections for the best online physical therapy programs have something for everyone.

TheraNow stood out as our best overall pick for its easy registration process, multifunctional app, and pay-per-session model, while ATI Physical Therapy was a top pick for its variety of options, offering a robust online and in-person option for physical therapy.

How Do Online Physical Therapy Programs Work? 

Online physical therapy programs work much like traditional, in-person physical therapy—but without the in-person component. You’ll schedule an appointment with your provider and log onto your computer, using your provider’s HIPAA-compliant video calling software, and work with your physical therapist remotely.

The specifics of an online physical therapy program will vary among individuals, but you can generally expect your physical therapist to:

  • Ask about your condition and how you’re feeling.
  • Ask you to point to any painful areas and demonstrate your range of motion.
  • Provide exercise demonstrations and ask you to mimic the demos.
  • Provide corrections to your form and technique.
  • Give you “homework” to complete in between sessions.

Keep in mind that online physical therapy may not be allowed in your state if it doesn’t allow direct access to physical therapists. Some states require a physician’s referral to get physical therapy treatment, and health insurance plans may not cover a referral for telehealth physical therapy.

Are Online Physical Therapy Programs Secure? 

Any reputable physical therapy practice will use a secure, HIPAA-compliant video calling software to conduct sessions. If you have any questions or concerns about your privacy, security, or related matters, ask your physical therapist to explain exactly how the online sessions work.

How Much Do Online Physical Therapy Programs Cost?

The cost of online physical therapy programs varies greatly depending on a number of factors. For example, if you’re undergoing physical therapy for a condition covered by your health insurance, you may not have to pay anything. Some insurance plans may charge you a copay per session or an overall copay for the entirety of your treatment.

If you don’t have health insurance or if your insurance doesn’t cover physical therapy, treatment may become quite costly. One hour of online physical therapy may run as high as several hundred dollars without health insurance, although it may be less expensive because you don’t get the added benefit of using any special equipment you’d find in an office.

Because online physical therapy is so new, there’s no average cost per session. To be safe, you may want to budget about $100 to $200 per session.

Who Can Do Online Physical Therapy Programs?

Anyone with minor musculoskeletal conditions or pain can benefit from online physical therapy programs. For example, if you’re struggling with low-grade back pain or a stiff neck, your physical therapist can easily provide exercise instructions remotely. Those nursing serious injuries or recovering from surgery, however, probably need to see a physical therapist in-person.

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