Physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) have long understood the connection between mobility, physical activity, and the prevention of society's most serious health conditions. Some committed PTs say now's the time to start sharing that understanding at the community level.
Featured in the May issue of PT in Motion magazine: "Reaching Beyond the Clinic," an exploration of how PTs are engaging in community health promotion in a variety of settings. And "variety" is a key word here: as explained in the article, "community health promotion" can be conceptualized in a number of ways, which can in turn create multiple opportunities for PTs and PTAs to make a difference.
Among the PTs interviewed for the article are Rupal Patel, PT, PhD, who created a 12-week group-based lifestyle program to reduce diabetes risk among Asian Indians; Beth Black, PT, DSc, the co-instructor of a 6-week program for people who have multiple sclerosis; and Jessica Berglund, PT, DPT, chair of APTA's Council on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Wellness, and an employee of a home health company that offers a "7 elements of well-being" program to older adults. Accompanying articles include a list of relevant APTA resources and a report on a new clinical model that helps PTs overcome unease about asking people about their unhealthy habits.
The article also addresses the question of whether PTs and PTAs should be involved in community health in the first place, and arrives at a definitive "yes." While education and training alone would seem to make the case for PTs stepping into this space—Berglund describes the PT's background as "ideal" for this kind of work—there's also a compelling ethical argument to be made for the profession becoming a leader in community health, according to longtime proponent Janet Bezner, PT, DPT, PhD, FAPTA. Bezner is on the steering committee for the APTA council mentioned above.
"We can't ignore that [preventable diseases] are harming society and fueling skyrocketing health care costs," Bezner says in the article. "If we don't address them, we're complicit—frankly, we're contributing to the problem."
"Reaching Beyond the Clinic" is featured in the May issue of PT in Motion magazine and is open to all viewers—pass it along to nonmember colleagues to show them 1 of the benefits of belonging to APTA. Printed editions of the magazine are mailed to all members who have not opted out; digital versions are available online to members.
Coming to NEXT in June? Don't miss "Utilizing Community Collaboration to Reduce Health Disparities," a session focused on the ways PTs have developed and implemented community-based programs.