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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Why can’t everyone take advantage of PT?

Published September 7, 2010 4:10 PM by Danielle Bullen
September 8th is World Physical Therapy Day, a time to recognize the contributions of physical therapists. Yet while 101 countries marked the occasion, not everyone in America has cause to celebrate.

From teenagers to senior citizens, athletes to factory workers, it's been well-documented that physical therapy benefits a wide range of people. The APTA in Vision 2020, writes about the importance of access: "Every consumer has the legal right to directly access a physical therapist throughout his/her lifespan for the diagnosis of, interventions for, and prevention of, impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities related to movement, function and health."

It sounds great in theory, but what about practice? The Bureau of Labor Statistics says physical therapy practices tend to be concentrated in urban and suburban areas. But with approximately 59,061,000 million Americans living in what are considered rural areas, where is the access?

Whether someone is referred by their physician or elects physical therapy on their own, having health insurance is a key component in receiving treatment. With an estimated 46.3 million Americans uninsured, there is a whole legion of people who could benefit from therapy that are denied access. People of Hispanic descent, people living in the South, and people ages 18-34 are more likely than other groups to be uninsured.

As a therapist, do you often treat the same "category" of patient? What do you think can be done to improve access to therapy among underserved populations?

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