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An 80-year-old woman is brought in to a hospital's emergency department. Although she has several comorbidities, the reason for today's visit is a fall in her home, in which she fractured her tibial plateau.

A physician would likely recommend keeping the patient non-weightbearing, training in the use of crutches, and scheduling a follow-up visit in one to two weeks, explains Kyle Strickland, PT, DPT, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and a board-certified clinical specialist in geriatric physical therapy.

A physical therapist, he says, would respond with a different lens. "The PT will delineate the patient's prior level of function, what supports she has, and the best equipment to help ensure she adheres to movement restrictions and maintains optimal function toward her goals. The PT can either help this patient return home — if feasible — or recommend further care if she needs subacute rehab, home therapy, or maybe simple outpatient follow-up."

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