APTA Applauds Introduction of New Veterans Physical Therapy Services Bill

ALEXANDRIA, VA, August 5, 2008 — The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) applauds the recent introduction of HR 6792 Veterans Physical Therapy Services Improvement Act of 2008 by Representatives Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) and John Boozman (R-AR). This bill will improve the recruitment and retention of physical therapists in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

"Meeting the growing rehabilitation needs of our nation's veterans is a top priority," said APTA President R Scott Ward, PT, PhD. "This legislation will help the VHA meet the challenges associated with aging veterans and the complicated injuries experienced by this generation. The recruitment and retention of physical therapists will help the VHA continue to serve our nation's veterans with the highest quality of health care."

"The combination of men and women returning every day from Iraq and Afghanistan with complex impairments and an aging veteran population has created a shortage of physical therapists in the VHA and demands that the range and quality of physical therapy services offered to those who have served our country in uniform keep pace with modern advancements and techniques," Herseth Sandlin said. "The bill I introduced Friday would attract the most qualified physical therapists to the VHA and help meet this growing need to provide access to superior physical therapy services to those who have bravely served and sacrificed."

"We must be proactive in ensuring there are qualified rehabilitation specialists to help meet the increasing veterans population," Boozman said. "Giving our veterans the care they deserve for the sacrifices they made is something I will continue to fight for."

The legislation will establish a Director of Physical Therapy Service position that will report to the Under Secretary of Health, to ensure that as the profession advances, the VHA keeps current with issues related to the physical therapy profession's education, qualifications, clinical privileges, and scope of practice. The legislation will also create a new fellowship program for physical therapists in the areas of geriatrics, amputee rehabilitation, polytrauma, and rehabilitation research.

"We commend Congresswoman Herseth-Sandlin and Congressman Boozman for their leadership in introducing the Veterans Physical Therapy Services Improvement Act and pledge to them our complete support in seeing this bill enacted into law as swiftly as possible," Ward said. "This legislation is an extremely important step forward in assuring that our veterans receive the highest quality physical therapy and rehabilitative care."

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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