APTA Supports Bill to Improve Physical Therapy Services for Veterans

Bill would establish PT Director position in Veterans Health Administration

ALEXANDRIA, VA, February 18, 2009 — The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) applauds the recent introduction of the Veterans Physical Therapy Services Improvement Act of 2009 (HR 1036) by Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD). This bill will improve the recruitment and retention of physical therapists in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

"Our nation's veterans deserve the highest quality physical therapy and rehabilitation services," said APTA President R Scott Ward, PT, PhD. "This legislation would help the VHA meet their growing needs by recruiting physical therapists who are knowledgeable and skilled in managing the many and diverse conditions that today's soldiers and aging veterans face."

The legislation will establish a Director of Physical Therapy Service position that will report to the Under Secretary of Health, ensuring 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. It also will create a new fellowship program for physical therapists in the areas of geriatrics, amputee rehabilitation, polytrauma, and rehabilitation research.

"With an aging veteran population and men and women returning every day from Iraq and Afghanistan with injuries unlike any sustained in previous conflicts, attracting highly-qualified physical therapists to the VA is important now more than ever," Herseth Sandlin said. "Those who have bravely served our country in uniform deserve access to superior health care and by improving physical therapy services at the VA, we are better equipped to provide that care and ultimately make good on the promise our country made to its veterans."

Physical therapists are highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility -- without expensive surgery or the side effects of medications. APTA represents more than 70,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Its purpose is to improve the health and quality of life of individuals through the advancement of physical therapist practice. In most states, patients can make an appointment directly with a physical therapist, without a physician referral. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat and find a physical therapist in your area at www.moveforwardpt.com.