What is not usually verbalized is the belief underlying the initial statement: all physical therapy is equal. Somewhere between its humble beginnings at towards the end of the 19th century and today, the physical therapy profession absorbed a generalized identity. Unlike the field of education, where we readily accept that there are both varying degrees of quality of educators and potential of relevance of those educators to the student, Physical Therapists are not often differentiated from physical therapy. We, as a society, seem to believe that physical therapy for a shoulder injury will essentially look the same whether it is delivered by the Physical Therapist at the clinic across the street or the one closer to home. In short, there is an expensive – both in terms of dollars spent and unnecessary, ongoing pain – misunderstanding out there: a PT is a PT is a PT.
As a 15-year veteran of the profession, I can assure you that this is far from true. With over 300 accredited physical therapy doctorate level programs in the U.S. alone, thousands of institutes providing continuing education courses and 35 unique practice settings, the physical therapy profession is far from uniform. But, most importantly, advances in postgraduate clinical training are currently widening the gap between the Physical Therapist across the street and the one closer to home.
“Participating in the orthopedic residency program helped me learn to streamline my examination and treatment to get to the problem faster, and target each client’s specific needs. For athletes, this means I can get them back to their sport as safely and quickly as possible,” says Sarah Winder, PT, DPT at Outpatient Physical Therapy in Kent.
Adam and Sarah are Physical Therapists who chose the less traveled path of ongoing, rigorous training and testing after graduating from PT school. Because their clinical experience and education are unique, their patient care is too. So, the next time physical therapy comes up in conversation, or you have a need for it yourself, remember Adam and Sarah. Ask your potential Physical Therapist questions such as, “Are you residency trained?” or “Do you have any Board Certifications?” Because now you are in the know: A PT is not a PT is not a PT.
by Holly Pennington Outpatient Physical Therapy