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PTA Blog Talk

Assessing Physicals

Published August 14, 2014 10:58 PM by Jason Marketti

One clinic I worked for provided drug screening and physicals for various employers. I was tasked with a checklist and some basic lifting scenarios to put potential employees through. At the time, the construction business was in full swing so there were a lot of people coming through who wanted employment.

When an older gentleman came through and passed the drug screen, the owner of the clinic (who was also the supervising PT) pulled me aside and told me to make him go through extra scenarios. Who am I but a pawn in the great city of Theratropolis? So my supervising PT gave me instructions on what to do during a screen and asked me to do a little more to ensure the gentleman was capable of performing all the skills necessary in order to gain employment.

I don't know if race had much to do with it at the time; however, the older man spoke very little English and performed well enough on the basic tests of lifting, squatting and moving about. Now I had to test him further than I would test someone else because of his... age? Race? I wasn't really sure why I was providing further testing for a man who passed all the basic skills necessary to do a job. I was never asked to do any other type of testing on anyone else, so why him?

Being a simple-minded PTA, I could have complied, put the man through some extra tasks and been done with it. Instead I talked with him about his family and what type of work he was going to do. It turned out he was trying to make some extra money to put a granddaughter through school. The position he was applying for had nothing to do with lifting or squatting skills. I discussed and reviewed body mechanics with him, signed off on the paperwork and wished him well with the job.

Being able to make a determination on whether to provide services and activity to someone who needs it was part of my position. I assessed the situation, then made a decision based on my questions to the patient as well as the results of the standard lifting and moving tests we provided. The man gained employment, paid taxes, and helped his granddaughter achieve her educational goal without wasting his time performing extra testing.

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About this Blog


    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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