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  • PT to Attend State of the Union Address

    Tonight, APTA member Mike Klonowski, PT, DPT, PCS, will attend the State of the Union address as an invited guest of Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL). Klonowski was the senator's primary physical therapist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago following a stroke in January 2012 that paralyzed the left side of Kirk's body. Last month, Klonowski watched Kirk climb the steps to the Capitol on the first day of the 113th Congress.

    Look for Klonowski's comments on tonight's event in an upcoming article in News Now.    

    APTA Clarifies Key Points of Medicare 'Improvement Standard'

    APTA's issue brief on the final settlement in the class action "Improvement Standard" lawsuit (Jimmo vs Kathleen Sebelius), which upheld the right of patients to continue to receive reasonable and necessary care to maintain their condition and prevent or slow decline, contains key points for physical therapists regarding compliance with this Medicare regulation.    

    In the brief, APTA notes that there is "clear and convincing evidence embedded within the provisions of the current Medicare regulations that providers may use to justify the current practice of providing skilled therapy to patients to maintain their current level of function or to prevent decline or deterioration." Thus, the final settlement seeks to clarify the regulations; it does not expand the Medicare benefit. "Therefore, we expect that only patients who were unfairly denied services based on this arbitrary standard will now have access to care," says the brief. 

    APTA members can access the issue brief on the Medicare Coverage Issues webpage under the subtitle Improvement Standard. 

    Physical Therapy Provides Short-term Benefits for Unilateral Lateral Epicondylalgia

    An article* published this month in JAMA reports that in patients with unilateral lateral epicondylalgia, corticosteroid injections were associated with poorer long-term outcomes and higher recurrence rates than other interventions 1 year after receiving the injection. Patients in the same study who participated in 8 weeks of multimodal physical therapy did not achieve long-term outcomes. However, physical therapy was beneficial in the short term in the absence of corticosteroid injection. In addition, significantly fewer patients receiving physical therapy consumed an analgesic or anti-inflammatory medication.

    This randomized, injection-blinded, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in Australia at a single university research center and 16 primary care settings. A total of 165 patients aged 18 years or older with unilateral lateral epicondylalgia of longer than 6 weeks' duration were enrolled between July 2008 and May 2010; 1-year follow-up was completed in May 2011.

    Of the 165 patients, 43 received corticosteroid injection, 41 received placebo injection, 40 received corticosteroid injection plus physical therapy, and 41 received placebo injection plus physical therapy. The physical therapy intervention was standardized, based on current evidence, and primarily included manual therapy and exercise. The exercise program included twice daily sensorimotor retraining of gripping and concentric and eccentric exercise to progressively load the wrist extensors using resistive elastic latex bands. The patients' home program and exercise diaries were monitored to facilitate program adherence.

    The 2 primary outcomes were 1-year global rating of change scores for complete recovery or "much improvement" and 1-year recurrence (defined as complete recovery or much improvement at 4 or 8 weeks but not later) analyzed on an intention-to-treat basis. Secondary outcomes included complete recovery or much improvement at 4 and 26 weeks.

    At 1 year, corticosteroid injection demonstrated lower complete recovery or much improvement and greater recurrence compared with placebo injection. There were no differences between physical therapy and no physical therapy for complete recovery or much improvement or recurrence. 

    In their analysis of secondary outcomes, the authors found that at 4 weeks there was a significant interaction between corticosteroid injection and physical therapy for complete recovery or much improvement. In particular, patients who received the placebo injection plus physical therapy had greater complete recovery or much improvement compared with patients who did not receive physical therapy, and medium-sized benefits for worst pain, resting pain, and pain and disability. 

    Despite their finding that physical therapy did not provide a statistically significant long-term effect on complete recovery compared with the other groups, the authors say that physical therapy "should not be dismissed altogether," because in the absence of corticosteroid it provided short-term benefit across all outcomes and had the highest percentage of participants reporting a complete recovery or improvement at 1 year.

    The results of this study were widely reported in the mainstream media, including articles by USA Today, The New York Times, ABC News, NPR, and CBS News

    * The full text of this study is available by subscription or purchase only. Copyright protections prohibit APTA from disseminating the information. For suggestions about obtaining literature, visit APTA's Finding Information in Physical Therapy Literature webpage.     

    CSM 2013 Photos Available Online

    Did APTA's photographer take a great photo of you or your colleagues at the Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) last month in San Diego? You now can view and purchase CSM 2013 photos. To order images and downloads, go to www.davidbraun.photoreflect.com and click on "APTA-CSM 2013."  Enter password "ribcage," click the "GO" button, select any day or event gallery link, and click on thumbnails to view larger images. Use the drop-down menu on the upper right to change between daily galleries. Prices for prints appear on the right when viewing an image. To order file downloads, click on the "Digital Products" link below the print prices.