The Monday Memo: 5/18/2015

The Monday Memo

May 18, 2015                                                                             PITT DPT STUDENTS

“Tomatoes or Potatoes”

Patients in the clinic often ask, how long did you have to go to school to become a PT?, and are surprised to hear that it takes so long.  They talked with another PT last week at the gym and it only took him a few weekends and certifications.  Or, another [healthcare provider] got his PT license over a weekend course.  To the layman, and some professionals, “PT” is an overly-generalized term, used to mean anyone that has some background in prescribing exercise.  To those knowledgeable, PT means Physical Therapist, not personal trainer, and not a physiotherapist “certification” that is often offered as an adjunct to some disciplines.  Comparing tomatoes to potatoes.


Physical Therapy is defined by its ability to examine, evaluate, diagnose, and treat musculoskeletal disorders.  Prescribing exercise is only a small, and relatively simple part of what we as professionals do.  Even though this responsibility is shared by other professions, Physical Therapists are specially trained in what to do and, more importantly, what NOT to do.  Being aware of the contraindications to exercise is essential to preventing further injury and allowing proper treatment of an injury.  Personal trainers and continuing-ed attendees do not have the depth or breadth to properly assess and treat such musculoskeletal issues.


The danger with this confusion is not only to our patients who may seek help from people less qualified than they believe, but also to us as a profession.  It is necessary for the public to have correct perception of physical therapists, PT’s, as the musculoskeletal experts that they are.  This must happen in order to progress the advancement of the profession.  We cannot keep comparing tomatoes and potatoes.


Note:  Physiotherapist, internationally, is the equivalent of a physical therapist in the US.  It is the domestic “certification” that is sometimes offered that needs to be watched.


-Michael Turnwald


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May 19, 2015 |

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