One day each year, the whole world comes together to celebrate physical therapy and its impact on patient health—and that day is today. So, happy World PT Day 2017. According to the World Confederation for Physical Therapy, World Physical Therapy Day “is an opportunity for physical therapists from all over the world to raise awareness about the crucial contribution the profession makes to keeping people well, mobile, and independent.” While every year focuses on “Movement for Health,” the theme for this year’s celebration is “Physical Activity for Life,” which aims to highlight “the important role that therapists play in healthy ageing.” If you’re looking for ways to celebrate this special day in your clinic, the World Confederation for Physical Therapy has developed a toolkit to help PTs plan and publicize World Physical Therapy Day events.

For some PT inspiration of our own—in honor of World PT Day 2017—we surveyed our network of exceptional rehab therapists to find out where they practice and how they’re making an impact in their communities. Here’s what they shared (with light edits to enhance clarity):

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Dr. Justin Dunaway, PT, DPT, OCS, President of STAND: The Haiti Project

Movement is life. This statement is more true in Haiti than anywhere else I’ve ever been. The citizens of Haiti work tirelessly, walk everywhere they must go—often carrying heavy baskets atop their heads—and don’t stop moving until the daylight is gone. Day after day, physical labor and movement is a necessity of survival. And while people get sick and sustain injuries, they must continue to live, work, and provide for their families—without access to medical care.

We are striving to change that. We founded STAND: The Haiti Project in order to establish permanent access to rehabilitative care for the people of northern Haiti. We bring teams of medical professionals—primarily physical therapists—and treat around 1,800 patients each trip. For many people in Haiti, this is the only medical care they’ve ever received. If you’ve ever doubted how life-changing and effective PT can be, you should see its effect in Haiti.

Andrea Dunn, PT, DPT, Owner of Arizona Sports Physical Therapy in Phoenix, Arizona

I make a difference in my community by expanding the knowledge of my patients regarding the freedom of patient choice and their ability to see a physical therapist first via direct access.

Colleen Fowler-Alden, Medical Records, Receptionist, Authorizations, and Benefits Specialist at Hilltop Physical Therapy in Fredericksburg, Virginia

Our office loves to help people understand their bodies and limitations. We have a great referral rate, and lots of local celebrities come see us because—with our help and knowledge—they’re better able to keep up with their high-profile lives.

Jen Wiese, Office Manager at Pinnacle Sport and Spine Clinic in Clinton, Iowa

We have been giving back to the community by donating our time, supplies, and healthcare services to those in need.

Samantha Van Arsdale, Office and Billing Supervisor at Pacific Northwest Physical Therapy in Crescent City, California

We are only one of two PT clinics in Crescent City. So, our clinic basically helps our entire community here. We do a lot of giving back to our community by volunteering, performing pro-bono work, and trying to get our patients in for treatment as soon as we can—even if that means we have to work with the other PT clinic in town to help get them the care they need.

Brian Hartz, DPT, OCS, CSCS, Owner of Hartz Physical Therapy in Lititz, Pennsylvania

We make an impact in our community by not only providing outstanding patient care and advocating for the PT profession in general, but also hosting a 5K walk/run every October for PT month. This will be our 14th year—and, to date, we have raised more than $150,000 for local charities.

Deborah Savio, Biller and Collections Specialist at Humboldt Hand and Foot Therapy in Eureka, California

Our therapists have 30 years of experience. We have a certified hand therapist who is one of only two in the county, and we offer a sympathetic therapy system (STS) program, specifically designed to treat the peripheral neuropathy that many people—especially those with diabetes—experience. We are the only clinic to have such a program, and we’ve had great success with it.

While a day devoted to physical therapy and physical therapists is wonderful, we believe the benefits of PT should be celebrated all year round. With that in mind, let’s make this World Physical Therapy Day the launch pad for not only singing PTs’ praises, but also continuing to demonstrate the value of physical therapy via meaningful data—to patients, referral sources, and payers—every day. Three cheers for PT!


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