Fall has arrived, and you’re no doubt enjoying a drop in temperatures, marveling at the colorful leaves falling from the trees, and finally savoring that long-awaited pumpkin spice latte. (If not, get out of the office and #TreatYourself.) But beyond the fall-themed changes in the air, there's yet another reason to celebrate the calendar flipping to October, as this month marks the annual celebration of National Physical Therapy Month! Each year brings with it a new theme, and the selection for 2016 aims to further promote the industry-wide effort to help patients avoid opioid addiction and instead #ChoosePT as a safe alternative for pain management. Here’s how:

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Get hip to the #ChoosePT movement.

Like many prescription drugs, opioids can be effective in alleviating short-term and chronic pain. However, the sense of euphoria users often experience while taking these drugs—which include Vicodin and OxyContin—can result in dependency and potential overdose.  

Of course, while opiates are in some cases an appropriate pain-management solution—not all injuries and conditions are the same—the APTA suggests avoiding these highly addictive drugs whenever possible and instead turning to physical therapy. That way, patients can avoid the adverse health risks associated with addictive pain medications and receive the treatment necessary to get back on the mend. In other words, patients can address the underlying cause of the pain rather than merely masking the symptoms.

It’s an important message—one that the APTA has been working to get across for quite some time now. In aligning its #ChoosePT campaign with the 2016 theme for National PT Month, the association hopes to reach even more consumers and educate them about the risks of opioid use and the benefits of physical therapy as a safe, non-opioid alternative for managing pain. That’s where you come in.

Practice what you preach.

In addition to educating your patients and the public at large about the dangers of opioid abuse, the APTA suggests downloading its #ChoosePT Opioid Awareness Campaign Toolkit, which provides a wealth of information and statistics about the dangers of prescription painkillers, as well as some great handouts and social media resources to help therapists play up this year's National PT Month theme.

Do more of what you do best.

Want to make a more direct impact? Here are some other ways to get involved:

  • Distribute the APTA's Patient Pain Profile at your practice (or at any National PT Month event).
  • Host a session at your facility where other healthcare providers and/or the public can learn about the role physical therapists play in pain management. You can also download and distribute the APTA's position paper on opioid abuse.
  • Give a presentation to medical students at a nearby college or university in which you explain how physical therapists not only manage pain, but also help alleviate the cause of the pain. This way, you're ensuring future generations of physicians are treating pain in the safest, most responsible manner possible.

Change attitudes; change lives.

Change is in the air (literally and figuratively), but it’s going to take more than colorful leaves and crisp mornings to shift people’s mindsets on pain management. That’s why you’ll no doubt run into people hell-bent on taking prescription drugs to cure their ills—even if those ills fall under the PT treatment umbrella. That’s why the PT community must work together to convince all healthcare stakeholders—patients, fellow healthcare providers, and insurers alike—to #ChoosePT when appropriate. We here at WebPT believe a concerted effort will go a long way toward transforming even the staunchest skeptics.


How are you celebrating National PT Month? What steps are you taking to help the world #ChoosePT? Share your answers in the comment section below.

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