I felt this topic needed to be addressed after a conversation I had with an old friend of mine, who worked as an ATC (athletic trainer) for an NFL team. We talked about how he chose his career path and what other professions he had thought about going into. He told me that he chose not to go down the PT path because he didn’t want to treat old people his whole life. I was outraged that another healthcare professional had no idea what physical therapists have to offer.
After this encounter and many others of similar outcome, I was reassured that there is a general misunderstanding about the physical therapy profession. We do more than treat old people and individuals with an injury. I chose to share with you the practice act of South Carolina, primarily because I appreciate the accuracy of the statue’s wording. However, you can find the reference to prevention within PT practice act’s across the country.
“ "The practice of physical therapy" means the evaluation and treatment of human beings to detect, assess, prevent, correct, alleviate, and limit physical disability, bodily malfunction, and pain from injury, disease, and any other bodily or mental condition…” (South Carolina Physical Therapy Practice Act, 2014).
Physical therapists have the skill set to be a part of the fight against preventative disease and promote a healthy lifestyle for the entire population. There are PTs working for companies nationwide that conduct functional capacity evaluations and pre-employment screenings in order to identify individuals prone to an injury. Those at risk are rehabbed or undergo work hardening in order to prevent any serious injury. PTs can also be found promoting wellness and increasing quality of life within the school system and community programs.
The point is that physical therapy deals with preserving the human body, not just repairing it.
- Patrick Berner, SPT