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Dan Rhon, PT, DSc, says the need to treat the whole patient extends far beyond the patient's health.

Looking at Physical Therapy Holistically

"The Army's surgeon general has determined that this is a matter of national security, because if you look at current trends, by the year 2030 we will not have a fit enough society to serve in our military and all of our community positions such as police officers and fire fighters," Rhon observes. "These jobs all require some sort of physical and health component. From that perspective—and the military's a snapshot of society—it's a big problem," he says. Rhon is a clinical scientist for the Geneva Foundation, which supports innovative medical research and excellence in education in the US Department of Defense (DoD).

The concept of holistic health care—whether in the military or elsewhere—isn't new. In 2013, Vice Admiral Matthew Nathan, surgeon general of the US Navy, wrote, "the implications [of poor health] on military readiness are profound," but praised a collaborative approach that "allows us to embed within a primary care environment the psychologists, nutritionists, tobacco-cessation specialists, mind-body medicine therapists, and health educators our patients need in order to develop and maintain mindful, healthy behaviors—along with the ‘mental armor' our active duty military personnel need to increase their operational effectiveness and their resiliency in bouncing back from stressful situations."1

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  1. Nathan ML. The patient-centered medical home in the transformation from healthcare to health. Mil Med. 2013;178(2):126-127. Accessed April 25, 2019.
  2. American Holistic Health Association. Principles of Holistic Medicine [webpage]. Accessed April 25, 2019.
  3. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. National Institute of Health. Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What's In a Name? [webpage] Accessed April 25, 2019.
  4. Wolf WR. Move to Health: Army Medicine Empowers the Patient. May 8, 2015. Accessed April 26, 2019.
  5. Ananth S. 2010 complementary and alternative medicine survey of hospitals. Samueli Institute. Accessed April 26, 2019.
  6. Misra SM, Guffey D, Tran X, et al. Survey of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) services in freestanding US children's hospitals. Clin Pediatr. 2017;56(1):33-36.
  7. Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. Holistic Opportunities Abound in US Hospitals: New Integrative Programs Offer Opportunities for Parents & Practitioners Alike [blog post]. Accessed April 25, 2019.
  8. Busse M, Quinn L, Drew C, et al. Physical activity self-management and coaching compared to social interaction in Huntington's disease: results from the ENGAGE-HD randomized, controlled, pilot feasibility trial. Phys Ther. 2017; 97(6): 625-639.

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