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  • PT in Motion: Physical Therapy Vision Far From Blurry

    APTA's vision of "Transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience" is certainly broad, definitely ambitious, possibly a little daunting—and very much about the realities of physical therapy, according to an article in the current issue of PT in Motion.

    In the March issue of the APTA member magazine, author Chris Hayhurst dives into the implications of the vision statement adopted by the association in 2013 and shares perspectives on what it will take for physical therapists (PTs) to truly transform society. Hayhurst's interviews with PTs who innovate, educate, and help to lead both private businesses and the professional association show how the vision strikes a chord with PTs.

    The PTs interviewed for the article don't see the APTA vision as yet another nebulous statement from yet another professional organization: instead, they provide solid examples of how the idea can be—and in some cases, already is—put into practice. Daniel Dade, PT, DPT, and APTA 2013 House of Delegates representative from Georgia who was interviewed for the article, thinks that making those practical connections to the vision isn't difficult. "This is what physical therapy is all about," he said of the statement.

    The PT in Motion article on APTA's vision appears in the March issue of the magazine. Hardcopy versions of the magazine are mailed to all members who have not opted out; digital versions are available online to members.

    For more on the APTA vision, visit the Vision webpage and view the livestreamed House of Delegates deliberations (June 25, part 2, and June 26, part 2).

    Editorial Suggests Physician Screening Tool, PT Referral for LBP

    A British screening approach for physicians with patients complaining of low back pain (LBP) could help in creating a US approach that more frequently involves physical therapists (PTs) early on and lowers the financial burden of the condition, according to an editorial appearing in the April issue of The Annals of Family Medicine.

    In their editorial, "Physical Therapy for Low Back Pain: What Is It, and When Do We Offer It to Patients," authors Timothy S. Carey, MD, MPH, and Janet Freburger, PT, PhD, comment on a new study of PT management of patients with LBP, saying the results represent an "important incremental step" in validating approaches that involve PTs early on and reduce patient work time lost. The approach described in the study involves physician use of a British screening tool known as the STarT, which can help a physician assess LBP. Once that key assessment is made, a medium or high-risk patient can be referred to a PT for effective treatment.

    The editorial answers the question "Should we try to adopt such an approach in the United States" with "a qualified yes." Authors point to logistical and regulatory wrinkles that would need to be worked out, but they say that similar screening approaches—such as those used for alcohol use or depression—were implemented fairly easily. "These advances don't solve our problems with the large disability burden and high cost of low back pain," the editorial states, "but they represent a promising start."

    APTA offers synthesized evidence-based information on LBP through PTNow, including clinical practice guidelines developed by APTA's Orthopaedic Section. Other LBP guidelines can be accessed at PTNow's practice guidelines webpage.