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  • From PT in Motion Magazine: Social Determinants of Health

    Health care is one thing. But the context of that care, the constellation of factors that can affect health for individuals and entire communities? That's something else entirely—and physical therapists (PTs), physical therapist assistants (PTAs), and physical therapy education programs are engaged.

    Now available in the July issue of PT in Motion magazine: "Addressing Social Determinants of Health," an exploration of the ways the physical therapy profession is responding to the concept that improving the health of society demands providers, researchers, educators, and policymakers get involved with the economic, environmental, and behavioral factors that can shape health. These factors, broadly referred to as social determinants of health (SDOH), can seem overwhelmingly systemic, but that isn't stopping some APTA members from taking them on in a variety of creative, impactful ways.

    The article shares the work of several PT-led organizations, including Move Together, which works to provide physical therapy infrastructure to areas in need (among other programs); Mama LLC, a physical therapy consulting service focused on improving women’s health domestically and internationally; and the Arlington, Virginia, Free Clinic, led by Nancy White, PT, DPT, which has embraced SDOH-conscious practices in its programs. Author Christine Lehmann also looks at SDOH-related research being performed by PTs, as well as the ways physical therapy education is responding to the concept.

    As the article explains, SDOH can include cultural and economic variables, but other factors such as the built environment and climate change can even come into play. At the same time, the concept also calls for PTs and PTAs to change their day-to-day approach to working with patients by considering—and acknowledging—the realities of a patient's environment, from micro to macro.

    "Addressing Social Determinants of Health," featured in the July issue of PT in Motion magazine, is open to all viewers—pass it along to nonmember colleagues to show them 1 of the benefits of belonging to APTA. Also open to all: "Looking at Physical Therapy Holistically," an article on how PTs are addressing both the body and mind in treatment, and "Providing Onsite Physical Therapist Services," a look at PTs who bring their services to patients.

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