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PT and the Greater Good

What Part Will You Play in the Future of PT?

Published April 1, 2014 6:26 PM by Dean Metz

If you've read my last blog, which ranged from Facebook to Adweek, you may wonder what all that had to do with PT? Reasonable question actually. Physical therapy has the potential to impact greatly on improved health outcomes for every country. On the whole, we tend to be a reactive profession. We treat people once something has already happened. If we know best how to help people recover (which I believe we do), then why shouldn't we be the best to prevent injury and complications from illness?

We've spent a lot of time and money working to be more efficient, to get people better quicker, and to hone our skills to achieve those ends. Why don't we do the same thing for prevention? My cynical self says it's because there's no money in it. I suspect many of us wouldn't know how to begin. Some very well-meaning person may start a social media campaign... and we may wind up with, "If it's physical, it must be therapy!" (I'm glad we haven't seen those bumper stickers in over a decade).

I read my ADVANCE colleagues' blogs, and the responses to them, about how people don't really know what we do, or think we're glorified massage therapists, or worse, think we're useless (see my old post "Useless, Totally Useless"). Maybe the first step is to successfully heighten awareness of the good we do. Gretchen Reynolds, a fitness expert, writes weekly columns for The New York Times, many of them about how to prevent injury. Do any of you out there know of a PT who writes a column for a mainstream publication? Is it any wonder the public gravitates toward personal trainers, chiropractors and other more visible professions?

We can't depend wholly on the APTA to do that job for us either. Like the CSP here in England, they spend a lot of time and energy ensuring we can get paid for the work we do. Branding the profession needs to happen on a grassroots level. Letting the public know about what we do will take more than an e-blast or two. What can you do?

If you do nothing, don't complain if that bumper sticker starts being seen again.

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I agree that therapists have the potential to greatly impact health outcomes in patients without injury or illness. I believe that therapists could actually save insurance companies money by providing preventative care. We have to potential to educate individuals about many conditions before they progress and in turn save healthcare funds. Having knowledge about how to handle one's condition or how to prevent musculoskeletal impairments could be what an individual needs to stay away from expensive imaging techniques, hospital stays, and surgery. It is truly a shame that the public is unaware of what this profession can provide. Hopefully therapists will begin to gain more publicity in the future to assist with educating the community about how we can motivate, teach, and inspire individuals to return to the aspects of life that mean the most.

Robyn, SPT April 3, 2014 4:57 PM
Raleigh NC

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About this Blog

    Dean Metz
    Occupation: Staff Development Specialist
    Setting: New York, NY – Newcastle Upon Tyne, Great Britain
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