Changes in Physical Therapy

We live in an era of constant change. There are many reasons to change–changing policies and procedures at work, changing because your patient base changes or changes because your beliefs or views change. Everyone has experienced positive change and negative change at some point in their lives.
For those who know me, they know that for the most part I do not really look forward to change, but at the same time I realize that change is a necessary thing. Some change is not all that bad. And change in the right way or at the right time is not only, not bad, it is actually good.
Our profession, the physical therapy profession, has shown a great model to continue change and transform from where we were in the past to where we are now. Our profession has changed in the world of education as we are now required to complete a clinical doctorate degree in order to take our licensing exam. This change has allowed physical therapists in Minnesota-along with many other states-to advocate for and become direct access providers. What does this mean for the consumer? This means that, unless your insurance company requires it, no MD referral is needed to access our care. Now, in a time of rising health care costs and copays which place a strain on the consumer, we are able to be the first line provider for our patients. In other words, direct access was a great change.
Our profession can now provide more encompassing manual therapy through joint mobilization and even joint and spinal manipulation. Research has shown time and time again that manipulation standing alone and exercise standing alone do not help a patient reduce their pain in the long term as well as the combination of manual therapy AND exercise. So why not make that change in our profession and make sure our providers are proficient at providing both. You know what, as physical therapists, WE HAVE!
As health care reform continues to evolve and change, our profession will continue to do so, so that we can continue to provide top of the line care to our consumers. This constant evolution of the profession can be seen in the more proactive approach to health care of multiple programs. Proactive strengthening prior to surgery has shown decreased pain and easier recovery after total knee replacements. Proactive hip and core strengthening has demonstrated a positive correlation to decreasing the incidence in ACL tears in high school and college age athletes. As therapists, why would we not provide this education prior to the surgery or help prevent the injury? We DO!
In summary, it is on us, the current physical therapist, physical therapist assistant or athletic trainer to continue to push the envelope for change. To continue to ask ourselves how we can better serve our patients and how can we be that agent of change to help move our professions forward. A wise person once told me that 5 years of doing the same thing still only amounts to 1 year of experience, but that 5 years of continued learning and evolution–that equates to 5 years of experience. Let’s face it these times they are a changing as Bob Dylan would say. Let’s change with them!

Joel DeMaris, PT, DPT, CMTPT at Isanti Physical Therapy

February 25th, 2015

Posted In: General

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