**Spoiler Alert** This is not my typical snarktastic posting. Just a mini-rant.
There was another blog posting that was written not too long ago that really hit home with me. It was in reference to a Dr. Oz show in which a Physical Therapist came out to showcase the “latest and greatest” therapy methods. These methods were apparently ( I didn’t see the episode) the following: ultrasound, Tiger Balm and a bumpy ball. The posting goes on to entirely tear to shreds this segment and make a case for why Physical Therapy is more than what the general public thinks. It all comes down to this one point: as a therapist (and specifically a Doctor of PT), we need to do a better job advocating for our services and marketing what exactly separates us from other disciplines. To see the original blog post, click here.
Some things I have come across today have sparked me to re-read this posting and write my own additional rant on the subject.
I had a patient today tell me when I was going through their insurance information “I don’t believe in Physical Therapy”. I sat there aghast and tried to understand why this person could think this way when obviously they were in need of therapy. She simply said “I don’t see how it’s going to help, you’re only going to hurt me, and my idea of therapy would be sitting in a hot tub”. Ignorant statements.
I also was doing some blog reading in which physical therapy was equated to working with a personal strength trainer. Super ignorant statement.
These types of thoughts pervade the perception of what a PT does in the general public. So I have the following statements to say to correct these common misconceptions:
1) PT does not stand for Pain&Torture, Physical Terrorism, or just pain. PT stands for Physical Therapy. This means that it will involve some physical work by both patient and therapist to accomplish an outcome to better the health and well-being of the patient. We can use means of exercise, manual skills, modalities, home programs, ADL activities, etc to accomplish this.
2) “No pain no gain”. I hate that phrase. Whoever said it was clearly not a therapist. Sometimes in therapy, pain is necessary. Sometimes, however, it is not. It is a case by case situation.
3) Physical Therapy describes a vast array of sub-specialties. Therapists can treat orthopedic conditions, neuromuscular disease, wound management, treat TMJ disorders, work in Women’s Health, participate in development of workplace ergonomics, perform pulmonary treatments, participate in cardiac rehab, treat vestibular disorders, engineer community wellness programs, etc. The bigger question is, what can PT do for you?
4) I hold my Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. Meaning I spent 4 years studying how the human body moves and responds physiologically to movement.
5) I hold my Doctorate of Physical Therapy. Meaning I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy. I was in school for 7 years and have a strong background in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, exercise prescription and programming, and manual treatment techniques. I hold a strong background in research; both design and interpretation. I have the ability to differentially diagnose. Ohio allows for Direct Access in which a patient can see a licensed PT without Doctor referral so long as their insurance company covers it. To say a PT has equal knowledge in exercise prescription to a strength trainer is nothing short of ridiculous.
6) As a Physical Therapist I am required by my licensing board to complete continuing education hours before each license renewal. Therefore, you can be certain that I am staying up to date on the latest and greatest treatment techniques and research.
How can PT’s advocate for their profession better? It starts with simply correcting the pervasively ignorant ideas that exist in the general public. It starts supporting our professional organizations to “fight for our rights” to prevent other disciplines from overstepping their boundaries. It starts by providing quality care so that a patient gives you the most valuable referral: word of mouth. It starts one step at a time.