Legislation Would Ensure Adequate Rehabilitation Workforce to Meet Wounded Warriors' Needs

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ALEXANDRIA, VA, December 19, 2011 — Legislation to help the nation's wounded warriors return to living full and independent lives by adding physical therapists to the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship program was introduced in the United States Senate recently by Sen Susan Collins (R-ME), says the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

This is great news for our service members and their families," said APTA President R. Scott Ward, PT, PhD. "We applaud Sen Collins for recognizing the critical need for an adequate rehabilitation workforce in the military to care for the men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, especially those who have sustained injuries from improvised explosive devices."

Physical therapists play a crucial role in managing service members with blast-related injuries, many of whom have symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The Brain Injury Association of American estimates that estimated 360,000 service members have sustained a TBI in Iraq and Afghanistan. These wounded warriors require specialized care from providers such as physical therapists with experience in treating TBI, in addition to managing the soldiers' burns and wounds, fractures, and neuromusculoskeletal conditions.

The Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship program currently offers tuition assistance for physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, optometrists, psychologists, physician assistants, pharmacists, and veterinarians serving in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. If the bill passes both physical therapists and occupational therapist would be eligible for the scholarship program, which varies slightly among the services.

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 77,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat and find a physical therapist in your area at www.moveforwardpt.com. Consumers are encouraged to follow us on Twitter (@moveforwardpt) and Facebook (facebook.com/moveforwardpt).

1. Brain Injury Association of American. Improve Brain Injury Care for Returning Service Members.http://www.biausa.org. Accessed December 13, 2011.