Texas Tribune, April 21, 2011
For Chase Bearden, physical therapy is a constant. At 17, the former high school gymnast broke two vertebrae in his neck during a routine practice and was paralyzed from the chest down. Now Bearden, 34, who went from being an athlete to learning to maneuver in a wheelchair, routinely visits his physical therapist to work his back and shoulders and stay agile. But Bearden can't go straight to his therapist—under Texas law, anyone who wants to see a physical therapist has to first see a physician and get a referral. For a recurring condition like Bearden's, a referral must be updated annually—meaning another trip to the physician, and another co-pay. This legislative session, Bearden is trying to convince lawmakers that for him and others in need of routine physical therapy, direct access is vital.