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  • Former APTA Board Member Barbara Melzer Dies

    Barbara Melzer, PT, DPT, PhD, FAPTA, a clinician and educator for 38 years who held numerous national and state positions within APTA, died February 17. She had acute pneumonia that activated interstitial lung disease, a condition she was diagnosed with 7 years ago.

    Melzer served on APTA's Board of Directors as director (1987-1992) and secretary (1992-1995), and on the Executive Committee (1991-1995). She also was a member of the Nominating Committee (2003-2006), serving as chair for 1 year (2005-2006). Most recently, she was member of APTA's House of Delegates (2007-present).

    A member of the Education Section since 1976, Melzer served in numerous roles, including vice president (2000-2004). She was a coeditor of A Normative Model of Physical Therapist Professional Education, Version 2000. In 2003, Melzer was named a Catherine Worthingham Fellow, APTA's highest honor.

    She also held many positions at the state level. She served as president of the Texas Chapter (1983-1984) and as chief delegate (2000-2003). She was a member of a variety of chapter committees, including conference planning, bylaws, and educational affairs.  

    Melzer was professor at Texas State University and director of clinical education. She represented the School of Health Professions on the Faculty Senate and was a multiple winner of the Texas State University Presidential Award for Service.

    "Through the incredible span of her service and lengthy list of accomplishments, she has impacted the profession in ways no words can accurately capture," Eric Robertson, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT, wrote in a tribute to Melzer.  

    APTA President Discusses the Future of Physical Therapy on Internet Radio Show

    APTA President Paul A. Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS, recently participated in Healthy, Wealthy, and Smart, an internet radio show hosted by Karen Litzy, PT, MS, to discuss the future of the physical therapy profession. During the 1-hour segment, Rockar answered questions and spoke on a variety of topics affecting our profession, including health care reform and how it will affect physical therapy, the "triple aim" of health care and how physical therapy fits into the overall health care system, and issues related to direct access, among others. The show, which originally aired on Monday, February 18, can be heard anytime online at http://www.talkingalternative.com/monday-shows/healthy-wealthy-smart.

    New in the Literature: Physical Therapy for Cervical Disc Disease (Spine [Phila Pa 1976]. 2013;38(4):300-307.)

    In patients with radiculopathy due to cervical disc disease, anterior cervical decompression and fusion (ACDF) followed by physical therapy did not result in additional improvements in neck active range of motion, neck muscle endurance, or hand-related function compared with a structured physical therapy program alone, say authors of an article published this month in Spine. They suggest that a structured physical therapy program should precede a decision for ACDF intervention in patients with radiculopathy to reduce the need for surgery.  

    In this prospective randomized study, 63 patients with radiculopathy and magnetic resonance imaging-verified nerve root compression received either ACDF in combination with physical therapy or physical therapy alone. Outcomes, including active range of neck motion, neck muscle endurance, and hand-related functioning, were measured in 49 of these patients by an independent examiner before treatment and at 3-, 6-, 12-, and 24-month follow-ups.

    There were no significant differences between the 2 treatment alternatives in any of the measurements performed. Both groups showed improvements over time in neck muscle endurance, manual dexterity, and right-handgrip strength.

    House Bill Encourages Access to Providers in Underserved Areas

    Rep Bruce Braley (D-IA) recently reintroduced legislation to ensure that communities have access to a wide array of comprehensive health care services, including physical therapy. HR 702 amends the Public Health Service Act to establish a Frontline Providers Loan Repayment Program that would allow states the flexibility to bring health care providers to specific areas of need and incentivizes the transition to an interdisciplinary approach to health care.

    The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on February 14. 

    Some Skiers Can Avoid Surgery for ACL Tears

    About a quarter of recreational skiers who tear their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on the slopes can be successfully treated without surgery, according researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Their article appears online ahead of print in the journal Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy.

    The study found that at 6 to 12 weeks post-ACL tear, results from 2 tests that involve only the physical manipulation of a knee can identify skiers with a torn ACL who will recover without surgery.

    The researchers examined records of patients treated between 2003 and 2008 to identify recreational alpine skiers who were seen within 6 weeks of a first-time ACL tear. To be included, skiers had to have ACL rupture documented on an MRI after the injury and a minimum of 2 years follow-up. Patients were excluded if they had injured ligaments in both knees. They identified 63 acute, first-time skiing ACL tears; 29 of these patients did not undergo an ACL operation.

    The researchers then separated the 29 patients into 2 groups, those that had low-grade Lachman scores and negative pivot shift tests, indicating a potentially healed ACL, and those that had Lachman scores of 2+ and a positive pivot shift test indicating a damaged ACL.

    Six to 12 weeks after injury, 17 of the 29 skiers who did not have surgery had a Lachman score of 0 to 1 and a negative pivot shift test. Six of these patients were lost to follow-up, but 11 returned for a study-specific follow-up evaluation at more than 2 years post-injury. These patients completed questionnaires that gauged how well the knee was functioning and how their ski accident had occurred. They also underwent Lachman and pivot shift tests and a KT-1000 test to measure motions of the shin bone relative to the thigh bone.

    Skiers described injuring their ACL in tumbles where the ski had rotated too far. Physical exams revealed that 10 of the 11 patients still had Lachman scores of 0-1 and negative pivot shifts tests, and only 1 patient's scores had deteriorated to a Lachman Grade 2+. None of the patients, however, complained about knee instability. Eight had returned to skiing without the use of a brace; 3 no longer skied. KT-1000 test results also were positive.

    APTA member Greg Fives, PT, coauthored the article.

    Majority of States Opt for Federal Exchange

    The federal government will be running new health insurance marketplaces, also known as exchanges, in at least 26 states, says an article by Kaiser Health News. These states include the major population centers of Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

    The Obama administration has given "conditional approval" to 17 states and the District of Columbia to run their own marketplaces. About 12 million people are expected to buy coverage through the Internet sites next year, with the number increasing to 29 million by 2021, according to consulting firm PriceWaterHouseCoopers.

    For consumers, it should make little difference whether the new Internet sites are run from state capitals or Washington, DC. But federal regulators hoped states would shoulder some of the work and that stakeholder groups such as hospitals and insurers wanted states to help, too. The exchanges become effective October 1. 

    Governors from Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, and West Virginia have sought approval for the third option— a partnership with the federal government. Three of those states—Arkansas, Delaware, and Illinois—have received conditional approval, says the article. 

    In a partnership, states would approve which plans can participate on the marketplace and handle consumer assistance duties, such as setting up call centers to handle inquiries. The federal government would handle the more complex duties of running the website, marketing the site, and determining the eligibility of millions of people for government subsidies that will make prices more affordable.