I am writing in response to "Integrating Physician Assistants and Athletic Trainers into Your Orthopaedic Practice" in the July/August issue of Sports Medicine Update.
As health care professionals who restore and improve movement, physical therapists help individuals experience optimal functioning and quality of life. They provide patient-centered care that is conservative and cost-effective.
Studies indicate that early and appropriate access to physical therapy can reduce total health care costs. For instance, a 2012 study¹ in the scientific journal Spine showed that patients receiving early physical therapy for acute low back pain had fewer subsequent surgeries or epidural steroid injections.
Physical therapists hold a graduate degree and must pass a national licensure examination before practicing. By 2016 the doctor of physical therapy degree will be the minimum required degree. Many physical therapists hold specialist certification in orthopedic physical therapy through the American Physical Therapy Association, thereby demonstrating advanced clinical knowledge, experience, and skills in various areas of orthopedic physical therapist practice.
Physical therapists are trusted members of the health care team, helping patients experience long-term quality of life through achieving freedom of movement and freedom from pain.
Paul A. Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS
American Physical Therapy Association
1Childs J, Fritz J, Flynn T, Wainner R. Primary care referral of patients with low back pain to physical therapy: impact on future health care utilization and costs. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2012;37(25):2114-2121.