Sen. Cristina Castro

SPRINGFIELD — While physical therapy has traditionally required in-person care and coordination, the rise in availability of telehealth services in recent years offers potential for the field to deliver efficient, low-cost care remotely. Recognizing this potential, State Senator Cristina Castro is leading a measure to give physical therapists in Illinois the option to provide services via telehealth.

“While some people will benefit from fully in-person physical therapy, it may be more convenient for others to utilize telehealth or a mix of in-person and virtual visits,” said Castro (D-Elgin). “This measure is all about flexibility because it allows patients to work with their providers to determine the best course of treatment that works for them.”

People who live in rural or remote areas, face barriers to adequate transportation, or those who simply need to check in with their physical therapist for further guidance could benefit from greater access to treatment through telehealth or a hybrid model of care that combines in-person and virtual services. A recent report from the U.S. Surgeon General even found that the ability to provide telehealth benefits providers, contributing to reduced staff burnout and greater flexibility in scheduling.

Illinois temporarily allowed physical therapists to provide telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this practice has not been made permanent. Castro’s House Bill 5087 would codify the ability for providers to offer telehealth services for physical therapy while still ensuring in-person treatment is the primary method of care and always available upon request.

House Bill 5087 passed the Senate Thursday.