It’s National Physical Therapy Month! Physical therapists (PT) play a vital role in the health and well-being of millions of people. This month we recognize Physical Therapists and raise awareness to their alternative pain management practices that can lower one’s risk of opioid dependence. Opioid addiction has quickly become a worldwide epidemic, and despite efforts to educate the public about the dangers of opioid abuse and the benefits of alternative treatments like physical therapy, doctors throughout the country continue to over-prescribe opioids to patients.
The goal of National Physical Therapy Month is to promote physical therapy as a non-toxic and effective alternative to narcotics (i.e. opioids) when treating both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) pain. So, when you see the hashtag #ChoosePT on social media or license plates, remember that it is referring to this very important cause.
What is National Physical Therapy Month?
National Physical Therapy Month provides the public with an opportunity to learn more about the physical therapy profession. During World War I, female physical therapists primarily served as support systems for male physicians, however, in the early 1920s, a group of women formed the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), a national organization aimed at promoting female physical therapists.
Conversely, one year after its inception, the American Physical Therapy Association added male physical therapists to its organization. In 2017, the Association celebrated a major milestone – 100,000 members. The purpose of this organization and National Physical Therapy Month is to motivate others to improve the human condition. The truth is, many times, physical therapists are the first direct point-of-contact in the healthcare system. Therefore, it is important that we recognize and acknowledge their contributions.
When is Physical Therapy Month?
Physical Therapy Month runs from October 1-31. As mentioned above, the American Physical Therapy Association created this observance to acknowledge the impact physical therapists and their assistants have on restoring mobility to the many patients suffering from an inability to move. It is important to note that the official Global Physical Therapy Day of Service is held on October 14th, this specific day of celebration honors physical therapist around the globe.
Who are Physical Therapists?
Physical Therapists are educated and highly-trained, licensed healthcare professionals, whose goal is to reduce patient pain and restore/improve mobility. Physical therapists offer a pain relief alternative to surgery and prescription medication (i.e. opioids). They also teach patients how to better manage their pain, avoiding the unpleasant side-effects of narcotics and/or surgery.
Physical Therapists develop treatment plans to ease discomfort, improve a patient’s ability to function independently, improve or restore mobility, and lower the risk of disability. Moreover, physical therapists use exercise programs and healthy diets to prevent patients from becoming permanently immobile. They provide care for people in a variety of settings (i.e. private practices, hospitals, outpatient clinics, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living centers, home health agencies, sports, schools, gyms, private residences, and even work-settings).
What are the Benefits of Physical Therapy?
Physical therapists treat people of all ages, both genders, and all capabilities. Listed below are some of the benefits of physical therapy:
- Moving – Physical therapists are “mobility specialists,” who can detect, diagnose, and treat movement issues.
- Participating – Physical therapists typically work with patients to ensure they receive the best possible care. They also design treatment plans based on individual patient goals, needs, and possible challenges.
- Avoiding Opioids – Physical therapists can help vulnerable patients avoid the life-altering effects (i.e. depression, overdose, poor health, anxiety, and/or death) of opioid addiction. It is important to understand that while opioids are appropriate in some cases, if possible patients should seek alternative treatments, like physical therapy, before taking painkillers for pain.
- Avoiding Surgery(When Possible) – Physical therapists may be able to help patients avoid surgery, in some cases, by teaching beneficial stretches and exercises that will increase mobility and reduce pain.
In summary, National Physical Therapy Month is a nationally-observed, month-long “holiday” that highlights the benefits of physical therapy and recognizes the important contributions that physical therapists have made to our health care and quality of life. The hope is that the opioid addiction will decline, as more and more people learn about alternative pain treatment options, like physical therapy.
Move Forward. (2017). National physical therapy month. Retrieved from http://www.moveforwardpt.com/NPTM/Default.aspx
American Physical Therapy Association. (2017). National physical therapy month – #ChoosePT! Retrieved from http://www.apta.org/NPTM/
Global PT Day-of-Service. (2017). Day-of-service. Retrieved from http://ptdayofservice.com/
American Physical Therapy Association. (2017). What are physical therapist? Retrieved from http://www.apta.org/AboutPTs/