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Raising the Bar in Rehab

Is Ebola Frightening?

Published August 14, 2014 6:52 PM by Lisa Mueller

I've been trying to keep up with all the news coverage of the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The story is quite captivating as it is not a subject I often hear a lot about, and I like learning and reviewing different topics related to medicine. Part of what is so interesting about the media's attention to the Ebola outbreak is the impact perspective Ebola has compared to other pathologies.

While important to contain from further outbreak, Ebola has so far impacted a fraction of the population as diseases such as AIDS or lung disorders. While the families, friends, and communities of the Ebola victims likely have a vested interest, why are so many people interested in this topic?

Physical therapy seems to be different in terms of what we publish and provide information about. There is lots of information on low-back pain or balance disorders, which are common in our profession, and less about select pediatric disorders.

Physical therapy was arguably defined as a profession during the polio "outbreak," so it will be interesting if physical therapy media follows future public health outbreaks. Have you been involved with patients who came to physical therapy as the result of a public health outbreak?

One of the items on my bucket list is to participate in a volunteer trip to help with natural disasters. A group of my colleagues were able to travel to Oklahoma City after the tornados (last year or in 2012) and said the experience was very rewarding because they could actually help others.

There are a few websites I've researched that host physical therapy trips to provide services to rural areas or other countries. A lot of planning goes into those trips for laws, regulations, travel arrangements and equipment, but I can imagine that the fulfillment in providing physical therapy to those with limited options is worth the effort.

What do you think? Have you discussed the Ebola news with your coworkers or patients? Do you monitor public health articles or trends?

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Public health has much to do with infectious diseases, but also deals with other issues like COPD or obesity. In the area I'm working in, in Northern England, COPD is a huge problem and there is lots (LOTS) of chest physiotherapists working on both treatment and prevention. There is no separate respiratory therapy here, that is covered by physiotherapy.

The main part of my career is now geared towards public health and how PT can play a part in protecting the public. Part of your post enlightens me about how PTs view public health; as mainly the arena of infectious disease. I'm glad you brought the topic up! There is lots of room for education among PTs in this area.

Dean Metz August 15, 2014 12:39 PM

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