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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Tell 'Em Stories

Published June 9, 2011 10:44 AM by Danielle Bullen

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - Last night, at the  APTA Annual Conference, CNN political analyst Paul Begala entertained the  physical therapists at the Gaylord National Convention Center with his keynote speech.  Begala began his speech by urging the audience to "Tell ‘em stories," when they visit the congressional offices today during Advocacy Day.  The great advantage the therapists bring to Capitol Hill are the stories of their patients in the real world. Washington, he reminded the crowd, is "Ten square miles surrounded by reality."  He added, "There's nothing like hearing from somebody back home."

Like many Americans, Begala had a story of how physical therapy helped a loved one.  He recounted the story of his mother-in-law who broke her hip while visiting Washington last summer. During her recovery, she suffered a stroke.  It was because of her physical therapist that she was able to recover enough to travel to Washington for this year's Fourth of July festivities.

Stories like that cross the political aisle.  Begala said, "There aren't enough things that unite us." Life their sights past red versus blue," he encouraged the attendees in preparation for the Congressional visits. He mentioned pride over Seal Team Six as something that did unite people of all parties and gave special mention to the physical therapists at Walter Reed and military medical facilities across the country for their work with our wounded warriors. 

Of course, a conference held in the shadow of our nation's capital will have the shadow of the biggest issue in American politics lurking over it--health care reform.  Begala talked about his father, who was lucky enough to survive cancer four times.  He said his father credited that to two things--the excellent care  and medical advances of his doctors in Texas--and Medicare.  His father believes that no private insurance company would have covered as much of his treatments.  Because of that, this lifelong staunch conservative has become an advocate for socialized medicine.

Regardless of individual physical therapist political leanings, while they're on the Hill, they have the opportunity to "reconnect politicians with the real world of the people they treat."  Begala closed his remarks by reminding the audience of the power of PT: "You know first hand that miracles are possible."


Begala proved to be a witty speaker. Two quotes in particular stood out.

On the Anthony Weiner scandal: "This makes me look like husband of the year. All I have to do is go home and say, ‘Honey, guess what I didn't do today?'

On the environment: "If you're a liberal and you don't drive a Prius, Al Gore will come to your house and bore you to death."


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