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Toni Talks about PT Today

Physical Therapy and the News

Published November 27, 2012 2:42 PM by Toni Patt

I don't know about anyone else but I can't read medical news with an unbiased outlook. A few days ago "Yahoo!" posted an article about a man who'd awakened from a month-long coma. The first thought that entered my mind was concern about why he wasn't wearing a helmet. He'd obviously had a hemicraniectomy so needed to be wearing a helmet. My next thought was to disregard the entire story since the coma was medically induced and therefore not a true coma.

I drive people crazy with this. I usually don't say anything aloud unless someone asks me about it. There are numerous movies I can't watch because I'll be so distracted by the medical inaccuracies, I won't pay attention to the movie itself. The same is true of TV shows, news feeds, magazines and the like. I spent half of "Forest Gump" trying to figure out how they were able to make the bilateral knee amputee so realistic.

Several years ago, I worked in a department that watched a soap opera at lunch. Any time one of the characters was in the hospital, we roared with laughter. I don't know which was funnier -- the butchered medical conditions, nonexistent recoveries or lack of residual deficits except for amnesia from the most devastating of head injuries. Entire conversations occurred with a trach in place. Once there was an oxygen tube that ended in mid-air.

But one thing annoys me more than anything else. Where is the mention of physical therapy? The story about the coma man mentioned him taking his first steps but said nothing about the physical therapist who helped him. I seriously doubt the man got out of bed by himself or that the nurses took it upon themselves to help him. For every story about someone overcoming a devastating injury, there is probably a PT pushing that person along who never gets mentioned.

My friends either humor me or ignore me. They don't care whether or not the man has a helmet. Nor do they care that a C-something quadriplegic can't use his hands. They have no concept of what I do or why I get annoyed that PTs are the forgotten discipline in the news.


I agree...this is something that I find quite annoying as well.  I think in the case of Gabby Giffords occasionally her PT was mentioned as well as other members of the medical team.  A pet peeve in that case was that they often used terms such as simple physical therapy and then mentioned sitting up and moving her legs with no mention of the PT.  I agree that stories that involve medical issues have much room for improvement however I was imagine that most of those stories are written by individuals with no medical background hence the reason for the inaccuracies.

Dan Curtis November 30, 2012 8:26 PM
Orlando FL

"Days of Our Lives" had "candystripers" teaching gait training!

Jeanne November 27, 2012 9:03 PM

I know what you mean. I torture my friends on Facebook with diatribes about things like this. Many years back when I was teaching PTAs at the rehab facility used in the film, "Flawless", the PTs were so excited that Robert DeNiro was playing a patient undergoing physical therapy after a TBI, only to be horrified when in the film, the actor playing the PT put hot pepper on DeNiro's plate in order to get him to speak! I've seen occasional PTs on old "ER" episodes whose primary purpose in the plot is to receive inappropriate advances from MDs with rather tacky comments about "if its physical, it must be therapy!"

Dean Metz November 27, 2012 7:34 PM

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