October is, without question, my favorite month of the year. The leaves change colors, the mornings have a little bite to them, and all my favorite pumpkin, cinnamon, and apple-flavored treats make a killer comeback. And I’m not the only fall fanatic ’round WebPT HQ—because October rings in one of our favorite annual events: National Physical Therapy Month! It’s the perfect time to take a beat and celebrate the wonderful PTs inside and outside of the WebPT community who dedicate their lives to helping people heal. This year, though, we wanted to do something a little different to celebrate health care’s most dedicated caregivers. Instead of updating you on PT advocacy efforts or recommending ways to give back to the community, we here at WebPT wrote you a short open letter—just to say thanks.
Your profession has come a long way.
Physical therapy (as you may already know) has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years—though it hasn’t always had the same name. It existed long before the founding of the APTA in the 20th century, and even before Per Henrik Ling established physiotherapy as a profession in the 1800s. Records of manual manipulations and hydrotherapy can actually be traced back centuries (some all the way back to B.C.) in all corners of the world—from Indonesia, Hawaii, and Japan, to Mexico, Nepal, and Russia.
Nowadays, physical therapy encompasses much, much more than manual therapy and hydrotherapy—just take a look at some of the most common services y’all provide! What’s even more exciting: therapists have never been in a better position to play a leading role in the patient journey. (More on that point in a bit!) Despite these changes, the core of the profession has remained the same. Since its inception, physical therapy has always been about putting patients first—and about working together with all other care team members to help heal people through movement. During the first meeting of the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT), WCPT President Mildred Elson said, “In physical therapy there are no barriers of language or communication. We have a common bond, a common interest–physical therapy for the patient.”
You’ve made a real difference in the world.
Physical therapy helps patients avoid side-effect-heavy anti-inflammatories. It helps them remember how to walk and talk after losing mobility and fine motor skills. It helps Parkinson’s patients stay on their feet and mothers recover after giving birth. It even helps alleviate chronic pain. In short, physical therapy helps people get their lives back—and there is nothing more inspiring than that.
The wonderful news is that the rest of the healthcare industry is beginning to recognize the intrinsic value of your care. Hospitals are acknowledging the negative effects of bedrest, and insurance companies are rolling out PT-first pilot programs to combat the opioid epidemic.
And your future is bright.
The field is projected to grow exponentially over the next ten years.
The future of physical therapy has never looked better. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that the PT profession will continue to grow at an above-average rate due to an aging population of baby boomers “who are not only staying active later in life, but are more susceptible to health conditions, such as strokes, that may require physical therapy.” Additionally, the wider healthcare sphere is warming up to the idea of taking a therapy-first approach to care—a movement that will ultimately help the rehab therapy industry grow even more.
Industry advocacy is at a high.
The industry is on the move. Physical therapists are angling to get a bigger, more influential seat at the overall healthcare table—and y’all are making some serious headway. As I mentioned above, hospitals are advocating against bedrest for patients, insurance companies are piloting programs that increase access to PT, and some medical programs (like the one at Johns Hopkins University) are requiring future physicians to learn about addressing pain without opiods (e.g., with physical therapy!).
But the push for positive change could always use more voices! If you’re interested in adding your clout to a PT advocacy campaign, check out the following links:
- Physical Therapy Political Action Committee (PT-PAC)
- World Confederation for Physical Therapy
Thank you for all that you do!
Our mission here at WebPT is to empower you to spend more time providing exceptional care to your patients—but we couldn’t do that without your inherent compassion and altruism. You’ve dedicated your professional lives to reducing pain and helping your patients get back to doing the things they love—and the positive effect you’ve had in the world is immeasurable. We are honored to work with you as you help heal the world through movement! Thank you, PTs, for all that you do!