National Physical Therapy Month (NPTM) is hosted by APTA each October to recognize how physical therapists and physical therapist assistants help transform society by restoring and improving motion in people’s lives. National Physical Therapy Month has become synonymous with the month of October for APTA members and their communities. It is a recognized celebration in the National Health Observances Calendar. The American Physical Therapy Association represents more than 88,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide.
Physical therapy is all about transforming lives, 1 patient at a time. These messages truly describe the transformative power of physical therapy:
- Physical therapists significantly improve mobility to perform daily activities.
- Physical therapists provide an alternative to painful and expensive surgery, in many cases.
- Physical therapists manage or eliminate pain without long-term use of prescription medications and its side effects, in many cases
Show your community what physical therapy is all about. Tell them about the benefits of physical therapy. Let them see why we are the experts in restoring and improving motion in people’s lives.
Share the 7 Myths About Physical Therapy with your family, friends and patients. These common misconceptions often discourage people from visiting a physical therapist. It is time to debunk the myths:
7 Myths About Physical Therapy
1. Myth: I need a referral to see a physical therapist.
Fact: A recent survey by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) revealed 70% of people think a referral or prescription is required for evaluation by a physical therapist. However, all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC) allow patients to be evaluated by a physical therapist without a physician’s prior referral. In addition, 48 states and DC allow for some form of treatment or intervention without a physician referral or prescription (Oklahoma and Michigan being the exception). Beginning November 1, 2014, patients in Oklahoma will be able to seek treatment from a physical therapist without a physician referral. On January 1, 2015, patients in Michigan will be able to do so, as well. Some states have restrictions about the treatment a physical therapist can provide without a physician referral. Check out to see the restrictions in your state.
2. Myth: Physical therapy is painful.
Fact: Physical therapists seek to minimize your pain and discomfort—including chronic or long-term pain. They work within your pain threshold to help you heal, and restore movement and function. The survey found that although 71% of people who have never visited a physical therapist think physical therapy is painful, that number significantly decreases among patients who have seen a physical therapist in the past year.
3. Myth: Physical therapy is only for injuries and accidents.
Fact: Physical therapists do a lot more than just stretch or strengthen weak muscles after an injury or surgery. They are skilled at evaluating and diagnosing potential problems before they lead to more serious injuries or disabling conditions—from carpal tunnel syndrome and frozen shoulder, to chronic headaches and lower back pain, to name a few.
4. Myth: Any health care professional can perform physical therapy.
Fact: Although 42% of consumers know that physical therapy can only be performed by a licensed physical therapist, 37% still believe other health care professionals can also administer physical therapy. Many physical therapists also pursue board certification in specific areas such as neurology, orthopedics, sports, or women’s health, for example.
5. Myth: Physical therapy isn’t covered by insurance.
Fact: Most insurance policies cover some form of physical therapy. Beyond insurance coverage, physical therapy has proven to reduce costs by helping people avoid unnecessary imaging scans, surgery, or prescription drugs. Physical therapy can also lower costs by helping patients avoid falls or by addressing conditions before they become chronic.
6. Myth: Surgery is my only option.
Fact: In many cases, physical therapy has been shown to be as effective as surgery in treating a wide range of conditions—from rotator cuff tears and degenerative disk disease, to meniscal tears and some forms of knee osteoarthritis. Those who have recently seen a physical therapist know this to be true, with 79% believing physical therapy can provide an alternative to surgery.
7. Myth: I can do physical therapy myself.
Fact: Your participation is key to a successful treatment plan, but every patient still needs the expert care and guidance of a licensed physical therapist. Your therapist will leverage his or her specialized education, clinical expertise, and the latest available evidence to evaluate your needs and make a diagnosis before creating an individualized plan of care.
Use this opportunity to tell someone about the benefits of physical therapy! If you are not a member of APTA, consider joining! Share your stories using #NPTM #31DaysofPT
In YOUR Corner,