Today’s post comes from WebPT copywriters Charlotte Bohnett and Erica Cohen as well as WebPT co-founder Heidi Jannenga, PT, MPT, ATC/L.
Have you been following #SolvePT? Lots of participation, awareness, and most importantly, action. It’s grown from a Twitter conversation to an entire movement, and we wholeheartedly support the cause. So, we’d like to dedicate today’s blog post to the kickass therapists who have led, joined, and gotten involved to build the physical therapy brand and increase the profession’s visibility. You are the musculoskeletal experts, and the world needs to know it!
In a recent article on PutMeBackTogether.com, Tom Walters, DPT, CSCS, argued that hospital emergency departments (ED) need physical therapists. An increasing amount of patients are visiting the ER with musculoskeletal injuries ranging from acute to chronic, and ER doctors simply don’t have the right training. In fact, almost half of US med schools don’t even require musculoskeletal instruction. Because of this, more and more hospitals are adding physical therapists to their ED teams, and researchers have well-documented the benefits.
According to a study conducted by McClellan, Greenwood, and Benger in 2006, institutions that included a PT in the ED team experienced decreased overall costs of care and increased patient satisfaction. Additionally, in 2005, Stowell, Cioffredi, Greiner, and Cleland, “demonstrated that physical therapists were able to independently differentiate medical issues from musculoskeletal complaints and were effective in managing pain-related conditions in first-contact situations.” In fact, “patients with musculoskeletal complaints who are seen by a PT in the ED are more likely to be referred for further outpatient care and return to work sooner,” according to Hackett, Bundred, and Hutton in 1993.
Even with these positive findings, Tom Walters concludes that patients won’t truly experience all the benefits a musculoskeletal expert first-responder can provide—not until communities understand the purpose as well as the importance of physical therapy and prospective patients having direct access to rehabilitory health care.
On a similar note, in his rally cry blog post Extreme Makeover: Physical Therapist Edition, Allan Besselink calls for an extreme makeover for the entire physical therapy industry. Frustrated by the APTA’s debate over “physical therapist responsibility and accountability for delivery of care,” Besselink urges fellow therapists to not waste time with such “duh” discussions. He instead encourages therapists to own their profession—stop delegating and making excuses.
It’s time to start “taking center stage in health care reform,” and no longer stand idly by while patients experience limited or non-existing direct access. It’s up to therapists to educate the public and influence legislation to demand that 1.) only physical therapists practice physical therapy and 2.) potential patients have direct access to therapists, who are, in fact, equals to other medical professionals.
Besselink warns that it “isn’t going to come easily, and what is rightfully ours will not come without courage, without ownership, without an extreme makeover, and without a fight or two along the way.” But it’s worth it. Remember, he concludes, in the words of Alexander Hamilton, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”
After reading those articles, all we have to say is “hell yeah!” We are 100% in support of direct access, elevating the profession, and helping everyone in the rehab community achieve greatness in therapy practice. You are the experts, and it’s our mission to help you show the world just that.
We’re pumped; are you? If you haven’t yet hopped on the social media wave, here is a perfect reason to jump in. It’s a great way to communicate in large groups with everyone having a chance for input. Give us your #SolvePT insights, questions, or rally cry in the comments section, and don’t miss tonight’s discussion on Twitter.