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  • PTNow Blog: Getting Beyond the Headlines

    The latest PTNow blog explores the complicated dynamics involved when mainstream media covers sometimes-complex health care issues, and uses coverage of APTA's Choosing Wisely® list as an example.

    "As great as it is when mainstream media outlets bring new health care research to the consumer forefront, sometimes the arrow doesn't quite hit the target," is how the blog describes what happened when National Public Radio (NPR) picked up on the association's list of "5 Things Physical Therapists and Patients Should Question."

    APTA's recommendation was, "Don't employ passive physical agents except when necessary to facilitate participation in an active treatment program," and like all items on the list, the recommendation included citations to evidence supporting the statement.

    NPR's headline? "Farewell, Heating Pad: Physical Therapists Say It Doesn't Help."

    "While NPR correctly emphasized that physical activity is stressed over passive physical agents, 'farewell, heating pad' is an over-reaching interpretation of APTA's recommendation," the blog says. The PTNow post opens up a discussion about how physical therapists and physical therapist assistants might respond to patients who have read the headlines, but haven't heard the full story.

    Have thoughts or experiences in sharing context in ways that patients can understand? Read the blog, and join the conversation.

    WSJ Calls Gait Analysis 'The Serious Runner's Salvation'

    The Wall Street Journal is bullish on gait analysis.

    Describing gait analysis as a way "to identify the root of an injury, or a bad habit that may lead to one," an article in the September 22 WSJ attempts to explain the relationship between common runners' injuries and how those runners move.

    "Increasingly, the runner's road to healthy joints starts with gait analysis," writes WSJ reporter Matthew Futterman. "Medical boots, cortisone shots or even surgeries never solved runners' problems the way 20 minutes of being filmed on a treadmill can, experts say."

    The article interviews athletes who have benefitted from the analyses and health care professionals who perform them, including Michael Silverman, PT, of the Hospital for Special Surgery, in New York City. The online version of the article also includes an infographic that describes which gait-related problems can contribute to runner's knee, stress fractures, proximal hamstring tendinosis, and plantar fasciitis.

    Tip: be sure to check out the reader comments posted at the end of the article for insights on what the running public thinks about gait analysis. And don't forget to share consumer-focused information on running from MoveForwardPT.com—including a Physical Therapist's Guide to Running (.pdf).

    Preventable Hospital Admission Rates Dropping

    In a mostly all-good-news report, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) says that rates of preventable hospitalizations for acute and chronic conditions are dropping across the country, with a 14% overall decline recorded between 2005 and 2011.

    The estimates, based on data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project and the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, looked at admission rates "for certain acute illnesses or worsening chronic conditions that might have been avoided with the delivery of high-quality outpatient treatment and disease management." AHRQ estimates that potentially preventable hospitalizations accounted for about 10% of all hospitalizations in 2011—a marked decrease from rates in the last study conducted.

    Among the findings:

    • The overall 14% decrease includes a 20.2% drop in admissions for acute conditions and a 9.5% drop for chronic conditions.
    • All regions of the country showed declines in potentially preventable admissions, with the South showing improvement from a 2005 rate that was 17.2% higher than the national average, to a 2011 rate that has been reduced to 10.5% above the national number.
    • Remote rural areas reported a potentially preventable admission rate 57% higher than the lowest rate reported (small metropolitan areas) in 2011.
    • Potentially preventable admissions for chronic conditions did not drop as dramatically overall, except in the South, which saw a 16% decline—though the South's chronic condition admission rates are still above the national average.

    Rates for acute conditions were tied to admissions for dehydration, bacterial pneumonia, and urinary tract infections; rates for chronic conditions were linked to admissions for diabetes, angina, congestive heart failure, hypertension, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

    APTA offers a webpage on the role of the physical therapist and physical therapist assistant in reducing hospital readmissions. Check out the page for links to videos, audio courses, patient education materials, and articles on readmissions.

    2015 CSM Registration Open; Early Bird Discounts End November 5

    Start your engines—registration is now open for the 2015 APTA Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) set for February 4-7 in Indianapolis, and members who register before November 5 can receive significant early-bird discounts.

    The 2015 CSM will take place in downtown Indianapolis, and will once again bring together more than 10,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students to participate in exceptional programming, networking opportunities, and an exhibit hall. Sessions will focus on content from APTA's 18 sections, and more than 400 exhibitors will be on hand to share the latest and greatest in products and services.

    More information, including registration instructions and session listings, can be found at the APTA 2015 CSM webpage.