At this year’s APTA conference in Salt Lake City, the House of Delegates adopted a new vision for the physical therapy profession: “Transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience." One way that PTs can begin to “optimize movement” is to promote the need for annual physical therapy assessments. This is one of the APTA’s current initiatives; on the APTA website, you can offer suggestions as to what you believe should be a part of a physical therapy annual assessment.
About a month ago, on a weekly #SolvePT Twitter discussion, we addressed this very subject. At Fyzical, we have developed FyzIQ, a proprietary assessment that takes a look at basic health, ROM, MMT, Posture, Balance, and Gait. Once we complete the assessment on a patient, we assign him or her an “IQ” score along with recommendations on how to work on areas showing a need for improvement. In the same way that patients receiving lab work want to understand their cholesterol levels, now they also have the ability to understand where they’re at physically. By implementing an annual physical assessment, we can help educate consumers and show them that physical therapists can be an entry point into the healthcare system—especially in states that have direct access.
Patients who are on the verge of “discharge,” are in a prime position for you—as the therapist—to educate them on the importance of an assessment. They may be pain-free but not completely better. Have them come back in six months to make sure they continue to move in the right direction, or transition them into a wellness program so that you can continue to monitor their progress.
Education still remains key when implementing something new, like physical assessments. One thing we know for sure is that preventing injuries is more cost effective than actually treating them. An example of that would be ACL injuries, where prevention of the injury costs much less than the surgery and rehabilitation associated with the injury.
Some healthcare providers have capitalized on the idea that prevention is cheaper than treating major issues—dentists, for example. They have educated consumers on the importance and value of seeing their dentist every six months, and the consumer agrees. That’s what we need to achieve, and I believe that annual assessments performed by a licensed physical therapist is the way to do it.