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Physical therapists responded quickly when the COVID-19 pandemic began, installing safety protocols and changing the way they worked with patients. Now, more than 18 months later, a lot of these short-term changes remain, and many believe that physical therapy is forever altered — for PTs, PTAs, patients, and students who seek to enter the field.

Michael Martin, PT, MPT, believes the coronavirus pandemic has affected and will continue to affect the practice and profession of physical therapy in predominantly positive ways in the long term.

"To start, I believe the pandemic and subsequent response further cemented the notion of a physical therapist as an essential health care provider, regardless of practice setting," says Martin, a board-certified clinical specialist in orthopaedic physical therapy at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. "From acute response and intervention for patients diagnosed with COVID-19 to the long-term care of patients experiencing post-COVID-19 symptoms and dysfunction, physical therapy has been an integral component of the care of patients. This can open the door for our profession to be considered and consulted when addressing similar conditions in the future."

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