Veterans Health Administration Updates Qualifications for PTs

Standards to enhance VHA's ability to recruit high quality PTs

ALEXANDRIA, VA, March 5, 2009 - New qualifications for physical therapists who work in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) will help ensure that America's veterans continue to receive the highest quality rehabilitation for their musculoskeletal and neurological conditions and other impairments, says the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). In recently adopting the Physical Therapists Qualification Standards, the VHA reaffirms its competitive and clinical leadership in physical therapy and rehabilitation.

"The approval of these standards will enhance equality among providers with similar education and will assist the VHA in recruiting and retaining expert physical therapists," said APTA President R. Scott Ward, PT, PhD. "In addition, these standards will bring the VHA up to date in current professional practice in physical therapy by recognizing the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree and physical therapists who achieve board certification in a specialty area."

The standards also will allow VA facilities to implement certain incentives designed to recruit and retain more qualified physical therapists to provide care for chronic diseases that aging veterans face, such as diabetes, and injuries sustained by wounded warriors, including traumatic brain injury, amputation, nerve damage, and burns.

"We applaud the VHA for acknowledging the important role physical therapists play in rehabilitating our nation's veterans," Ward said. "We expect these new standards will encourage more physical therapists to consider a career with the VA."

Physical therapists are highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility - in many cases 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.

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