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  • NYT Article Questions Arthroscopic Surgery, Acid Injections for Knee Pain

    New York Times (NYT) writer Jane Brody engaged in a lot of what she describes as "wishful thinking" about how best to treat her knee pain. One surgery, 1 hyaluronic acid injection treatment, and 2 knee replacements later, she's wondering what might've been had she avoided interventions that "have limited or no evidence to support them."

    In her July 3 NYT piece titled "What I Wish I'd Known About My Knees," Brody recounts her journey through meniscal tear arthroscopic surgery and "painful, costly injections," only to lead to knee replacement, and compares her results with a friend who opted for physical therapy when he was diagnosed with a meniscus tear and is now pain-free. The stories highlight what Brody calls "serious questions" about the benefits of arthroscopic procedures people pursue "in hopes of delaying, if not avoiding, total knee replacements."

    Brody cites recent guidelines, published in BMJ, that recommend conservative treatment over arthroscopic surgery for "nearly all" patients with degenerative knee disease. Brody quotes Reed A.C. Siemieniuk, MD, chair of the BMJ panel that created the new guidelines, as saying that "arthroscopic surgery has a role, but not for arthritis and meniscal tears," and that "[arthroscopic surgery for meniscal tears] became popular before there were studies to show that it works, and we now have high-quality evidence showing that it doesn't work."

    In the article, Brody also summarizes Siemieniuk's recommendations on "approaches that are known to help keep many patients out of the operating room." In addition to weight loss, avoiding activities that aggravate the pain, and using over-the-counter pain relievers if necessary, Brody writes that "most helpful of all" is to "undergo 1 or more cycles of physical therapy administered by a licensed therapist, perhaps one who specializes in knee pain. Be sure to do the recommended exercises at home and continue to do them indefinitely lest their benefits dissipate."

    From PT in Motion Magazine: Discovering a Second Career as a PTA

    When it comes to pursuing a career as a physical therapist assistant (PTA), it's never too late. Just ask the people who, often in middle age and after being successful in other areas, decided it was time to remake themselves as PTAs.

    In the July edition of PT in Motion magazine, Associate Editor Eric Ries takes a look at PTAs who have taken up physical therapy as a second career. Their stories reveal varied circumstances leading to the decision to become a PTA but a shared satisfaction with their new profession. Featured in the article are:

    • David Emerick, PTA, BBA, who ran a marine construction company and whose PTA interest was piqued when he volunteered to roleplay as a patient to help his wife, then attending PTA school herself
    • Gail Newsome, PTA, BBA, owner of a marketing company who encountered physical therapy after a breast cancer diagnosis, and who entered PTA school at 55
    • Walter Latapie, PTA, business manager and owner of an auto repair shop who says, "I used to fix cars. Now I help fix people"
    • Angie Sawdy, PTA, BS, who sold real estate with her husband but whose background in ballet and yoga pulled her toward the PTA path
    • Lisa Zemaitis, PTA, BS, former cosmetologist and stay-at-home mom who fulfilled a promise she made to a physical therapist who helped her overcome a rotator cuff tear
    • Chris Garland, PTA, BS, who worked as a graphic designer but had been intrigued by physical therapy after seeing how it helped her mother recover from dual anterior cruciate ligament repair
    • Doug Slick, PTA, BM, a working musician whose transition to PTA allowed him to pursue a career he loves while rediscovering the joy of music—this time as a hobby, not a job

    "First Choice for a Second Career" is featured in the July issue of PT in Motion and is open to all viewers—pass it along to nonmember colleagues to show them 1 of the benefits of belonging to APTA. Printed editions of the magazine are mailed to all members who have not opted out; digital versions are available online to members.