Statement by APTA President on National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy

July 21, 2011

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) applauds the recently released National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy and its call for public and private partners to take action and "move the nation away from a health care system focused on sickness and disease to one focused on wellness and prevention." APTA stands ready to help Americans live longer and more healthful lives through partnerships at the patient, community, and national level. The National Prevention Strategy’s strategic directions to create healthy and safe communities, reduce or preferably eliminate health disparities, integrate clinical and community prevention, and assist individuals in making healthful lifestyle choices will improve the health of our nation and provide increasing opportunities for individuals across the lifespan and of all abilities.

Improving the nation's health through a national strategy on prevention and health promotion will take an integrated, multidisciplinary, and community-based approach. Physical therapists will play a critical role as members of health care teams, community leaders, and experts in improving and restoring motion in people of all ages and abilities. As the percentage of Americans with activity limitations, mobility-related impairments, and disability caused by preventable conditions, such as physical inactivity, diabetes, and obesity, continues to grow, physical therapists must engage at the individual and community level to address this public health need through evidence-based interventions, health services, and community-based initiatives.

The National Prevention Strategy: America's Plan for Better Health and Wellness is a call to action for health care providers and physical therapists to assist our nation in reducing disability, improving function, and advancing health status. In 2005, APTA adopted a position recommending that all individuals visit a physical therapist annually to promote optimal health, wellness, and fitness, as well as to slow the progression of impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities. Increasing the number of Americans who visit a physical therapist for an annual screening aimed at preventing mobility related impairments and providing counseling on healthy choices will advance the objectives of the National Prevention Strategy. APTA calls on physical therapists to make these annual screenings accessible and affordable, and to integrate them into community- and clinical-based initiatives.     

APTA and the physical therapy profession has much to offer to support the strategic directions outlined by the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council, particularly with expanding quality preventive services in both clinical and community settings, empowering people to make healthful choices, and eliminating health disparities. We look forward to collaborating with other health care professionals, policymakers, federal and local agencies, stakeholders, and the individuals we serve to accomplish the strategy's endeavor to foster a healthy and fit nation. We also look forward to physical therapists answering the call of the National Prevention Strategy and becoming leaders in their communities to advance these directions and priorities.

APTA President R. Scott Ward, PT, PhD