The use of digital platforms in physical therapy isn't the stuff of the future — it's part of the here-and-now. The same could be said for the increasing diversity in the profession — it’s time to initiate change, not wait for it. A new collaborative effort between APTA and SWORD Health aims to be responsive to both realities by funding research into the use of technology and further strengthening APTA's efforts to support diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Under the arrangement, SWORD will donate at least $100,000 annually to support research on digital approaches and digital practice quality-of-care, and to sponsor scholarships for individuals from underrepresented minorities. The scholarship money will go to APTA’s Physical Therapy Fund, and the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research will be the administrator of the research grant money.
"We are very proud and honored to collaborate with APTA in propelling a digital transformation that can benefit the profession and pave the way for a more sustainable, equitable health care system," said Vijay Yanamadala, SWORD's chief medical officer. Yanamadala characterized the donations to the PT Fund as something his company feels compelled to do "as a pioneering company."
APTA CEO Justin Moore, PT, DPT, described the collaboration as one that will "support efforts to shine a brighter light on physical therapy, uphold the profession's standards, promote physical therapy’s efficacy and need, and propel the profession further."
The spirit of the relationship echoes themes recently articulated by APTA President Roger Herr, PT, MPA, in a statement on digital health technology and physical therapy. In that statement, Herr acknowledged the ubiquity of digital platforms and technologies in physical therapy, but stressed that the profession ultimately turns on the clinical skills of human beings.
"APTA maintains that 'physical therapy,' whether provided in person or virtually, is performed or directed by licensed physical therapists," Herr wrote, adding that "physical therapist treatment and technology can and should coexist with the health and experience of the consumer in mind."