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Raising the Bar in Rehab

The Culture of Physical Therapy

Published August 13, 2010 11:36 AM by

I went to a wedding in New Jersey last weekend. My parents and I flew the two hours from Milwaukee to Newark to attend the wedding and celebrate the occasion with my extended family. The ceremony was outdoors on a Friday night at a beautiful reception hall.

I have lived most of my life in Wisconsin (minus a few years in Minnesota) and have been to many weddings. I also had a summer job during college at a country club where I worked countless wedding receptions. In Wisconsin, like many other states, the schedule of events at a reception is fairly predictable. We eat a lot of food initially, combined with some beer, followed by dancing.

At the New Jersey wedding, the meal was intermingled with dancing between each course. After the appetizers were served the DJ would play a few songs, many of the guests would dance and then return to their seats for the salad. This happened again for the entrée, and again for the dessert. By the time the meal was completely finished, it was nearly 10:30 p.m. Wow! (In Wisconsin, we stay seated for the entire meal).

My cousins and I were seated together and kept discussing how different the reception was compared to others we had been to. One of my cousins mentioned how she had heard from a friend how different the culture of weddings was on the East Coast. We had a great time at the wedding and wouldn't have changed anything but we were also surprised at the experience.

So of course, I got to thinking... is physical therapy different in other geographical areas? Do treatment sessions incorporate the same components? Do we progress our patients at the same rate? Does evidence-based research unite our approaches to patient care?

Have you ever worked in different areas and noticed remarkable differences in the way therapists work?

I haven't had enough experience in various locations to know the answer to those questions. We are all aware of the minor variability between facilities and habits we acquire based on our specific patients' needs. I'm hoping you can give me, and the other readers, some feedback on the experiences you have had.


Good topic.  I agree with Al.  I'd think the initial primary influencer would be where you were taught to be a PT.  

I've worked in OH, IN, KY, TN, MD, SC, FL.  So, I've stayed in the midwest/southeast.  But I haven't noticed a difference in practice for region as much as I have for facility.  Each facility has its own flavor.  

In Charleston, South Carolina, there were unique cultural components and also a definite prejudice against northerners.  Interestingly, these differences were only in Charleston.  I've worked in two other cities in SC and haven't noticed either.

So, while I did note significant cultural differences in one city, I didn't notice that any of the therapists practiced any differently in the states where I worked.

My PT class and worksites had students and therapists from all over the US, and some foreign trained as well.  Perhaps the transient nature of our society makes for a more homogenous PT world?

Janey Goude August 15, 2010 3:11 PM

Lisa - you bring up a very interesting point. Certainly, exposure to Schools in different parts of the country will initially dictate your slant on rehab, but I never thought about just what effect the section of the country might have. Probably some is going to be affected by the types of insurance coverage. Good coverage will allow a more in depth and longer comprehensive rehab. HMO's might limit the number of visits, therefore, you're strapped as to what you can do. Good food for thought (but probably not as good as the food at the wedding). Keep up the good wotk - Al D.

Al DiMicco, Ortho - Director of PT, Orthopedic Specialists August 14, 2010 8:12 PM
Bessemer AL

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