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  • CNN Money Looks at Challenges Faced by PTs, Other Providers, Whose Jobs Require Touch in the Workplace

    A recent article in CNN Money looks at the issue of touching in the workplace from the perspective of professions that typically involve physical contact—including physical therapy.

    "No Touching in the workplace. But what if your job requires it?" includes interviews with long-term care workers, a nurse, and Jill Boissonnault, PT, PhD, co-author of a recent study on inappropriate patient sexual behavior (IPSB) involving physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students. That study, which appears in Physical Therapy (PTJ), found that 84% of respondents had experienced IPSB at some point during their careers or training, and that 47% had experienced IPSB within the past year. The study is also the subject of a recent PTJ podcast.

    In the CNN article, Boissonnault points out that PTs and other health care workers experiencing IPSB are in a complicated situation that can pit the unacceptability of the patient's actions against the provider's ethical commitment to patient care. "That doesn't mean we would tolerate a client jeopardizing our safety…but the clients' best interests need to be forefront in our minds," she tells CNN.

    'Hollywood' High Tech May See Wide Release in Physical Therapy, but PTs Will Remain Feature Attraction

    Tech site CNET is making the case that technologies such as motion-capture interfaces may be the next big thing in physical therapy, but representatives from APTA are tempering that enthusiasm for virtual reality with a dose of actual reality: there needs to be a real, live physical therapist (PT) involved to evaluate patients and help them get the most benefit from any technology.

    In a recent article titled "Hollywood tech lands a leading role in health care," CNET writer Abrar Al-Heeti writes that cutting-edge video technology is "starting to find its way into physical therapy" in what proponents believe are promising ways. The article focuses on the use of motion-capture technology—the same video-based tracking interface that animated the indigenous characters in Avatar—and virtual reality headsets but also touches on simpler technologies including motion-tracking and video games.

    The CNET article quotes developers touting the ways in which the new technologies could help patients adhere to and properly perform postoperative home exercise programs. "The patient becomes more engaged in their therapy," one analyst tells CNET. "The patient is able to perform therapy at their convenience, at their own time, and their own location."

    Maybe, say Matt Elrod, PT, DPT, MEd, and Hadiya Green-Guerrero, PT, DPT, but not without a PT. Both Elrod and Green-Guerrero are practice specialists at APTA.

    "If somebody has a shoulder problem, just to say 'Go do this technology' is really not the best bet," Elrod tells CNET. "What you need is a thorough evaluation…[and] examination to determine where the dysfunction really is."

    Green-Guerrero points out that at the end of the day, any technology is a tool—and tools require someone who knows how to use them. "Technology can definitely augment what we do as physical therapists [but] those who use it know that it's not a replacement for a physical therapist," she says in the article.