Rehabilitative therapy occurs when the skills of a therapist, (See definition of therapist in section 220 of this chapter) are necessary to safely and effectively furnish a recognized therapy service whose goal is improvement of an impairment or functional limitation.
Skilled therapy may be needed, and improvement in a patient’s condition may occur, even where a chronic or terminal condition exists. For example, a terminally ill patient may begin to exhibit self-care, mobility, and/or safety dependence requiring skilled therapy services. The fact that full or partial recovery is not possible does not necessarily mean that skilled therapy is not needed to improve the patient’s condition. In the case of a progressive degenerative disease, for example, service may be intermittently necessary to determine the need for assistive equipment and establish a program to maximize function. The deciding factors are always whether the services are considered reasonable, effective treatments for the patient’s condition and require the skills of a therapist, or whether they can be safely and effectively carried out by nonskilled personnel without the supervision of qualified professionals.
Services that can be safely and effectively furnished by nonskilled personnel or by PTAs or OTAs without the supervision of therapists are not rehabilitative therapy services. If at any point in the treatment of an illness it is determined that the treatment is not rehabilitative, or does not legitimately require the services of a qualified professional for management of a maintenance program as described below, the services will no longer be considered reasonable and necessary. Services that are not reasonable or necessary should be excluded from coverage.
Potential for Improvement Due to Treatment
. If an individual’s expected rehabilitation potential would be insignificant in relation to the extent and duration of physical therapy services required to achieve such potential, therapy would not be covered because it is not considered rehabilitative or reasonable and necessary.
Improvement is evidenced by successive objective measurements whenever possible (
Therapy is not required to effect improvement or restoration of function where a patient suffers a transient and easily reversible loss or reduction of function (e.g., temporary weakness which may follow a brief period of bed rest following abdominal surgery) which could reasonably be expected to improve spontaneously as the patient gradually resumes normal activities. Therapy furnished in such situations is not considered reasonable and necessary for the treatment of the individual’s illness or injury and the services are not covered.