PTs Applaud Renewal of Higher Education Opportunity Act

ALEXANDRIA, VA, August 19, 2008 — Members of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) applaud President Bush for signing into law the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HR 4137). This new law amends and extends the Higher Education Act of 1965.

HR 4137 allows physical therapists who provide care to children, adolescents, and veterans to be eligible for up to $10,000 over 5 years in authorized student loan repayment programs.

"Because of the extensive education and clinical training required to become a physical therapist, students often begin their careers with significant levels of debt," explained APTA President R Scott Ward, PT, PhD. "Relieving some of that financial burden and bringing more physical therapists to clinically underserved communities will provide lasting benefits for years to come."

Provisions of the final conference agreement on HR 4137 will enable physical therapists to participate in an existing program that offers help with repayment of student loans to health care professionals who provide services to specific patient populations. This initiative is separate from the National Health Service Corp loan repayment program that is the focus of the Physical Therapist Student Loan Repayment Eligibility Act (S 2485/HR 1134).

Physical therapists are health care professionals who diagnose and manage individuals of all ages, from newborns to elders, who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. Physical therapists examine each individual and develop a plan of care using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. Physical therapists also work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.

APTA (www.apta.org) is a national organization representing physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students nationwide. Its goal is to foster advancements in physical therapist education, practice, and research. Consumers can visit www.findapt.us to find a physical therapist in their area, as well as www.apta.org/consumer for physical therapy news and information.

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