The physical therapy profession is definitely on the move. So it is fitting that this year's theme for National Physical Therapy Month, sponsored by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), is "Move Forward: Physical Therapy Brings Motion to Life."
Not only does the theme represent the physical therapist brand and where the profession is headed. It also highlights the fact that "physical therapists help you restore and improve motion to achieve long-term quality of life," said APTA President R. Scott Ward, PT, PhD, in a press release.
"Motion is anti-aging and something we tend to take for granted until we lose it. Physical therapists are experts in the way the body moves, so we can help improve people's quality of life by helping them move freely so they can do the things they want to do without pain and discomfort."
ADVANCE spoke with several physical therapists around the country to find out what they are doing to celebrate PT Month.
To bring awareness of physical therapy to patients and the community, many clinics and facilities have planned open houses and workshops.
Beyond Physical Therapy in Marina del Rey, CA, for instance, is kicking off the celebration by initiating a balance class for patients and community members in the spirit of the theme of "Moving Forward."
"We want these class members to put there 'best foot forward' in order to prevent falls and improve their overall function," said Dr. Felicia N. Colon-Barnes, DPT, CSCS,
clinic supervisor. "The physical therapists at Beyond PT are excited about this new venture and hope this makes a huge impact in our community."
Spine and Sports Rehabilitation Center in Bel Air, MD, is dedicating a theme each week to address PT Month activities. The focuses include: Alzheimer's; heart rate, blood pressure and target heart rate for exercise; healthy body weight and body mass index and lifestyle changes to improve both including exercise and diet and falls prevention and performance of balance assessment.
Cori Zacher, PT, director of rehabilitation services at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, IL, is most excited for her facility's free community education classes that have been established to assist people on independent management of their respective health issues. The theme of health promotion and wellness will give the community "some valuable resources to manage their health issues and opportunities to ask questions from an expert in rehabilitation services," Zacher said.
The facility will emphasize exercises and information for osteoporosis, fall prevention, beginning an exercise program, strengthening techniques for golf, pediatric communication skills and picky eating in children. Staff will also be donning PT Month T-shirts to increase awareness.
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta plans to educate the community and physicians on prematurity and developmental delays through free screenings, a continuation of outreach efforts the facility undertakes throughout the year.
"We have someone who is already in charge of providing educational materials to the community, especially physicians," said Dr. Rachel Segneri, PT, DPT. "If we get referrals that are inappropriate, she will get out there and educate the physicians."
Doing Good in the Community
Other physical therapy departments are honoring PT Month by helping out the less fortunate in the community.
Andrea Avruskin, PT, DPT, ATC, LAT, of Select Physical Therapy, an outpatient facility in Las Vegas, NV, has planned a food drive in conjunction with her state's Peanut Butter Challenge, in which different cities collect peanut butter for donation to the Food Bank of Northern Nevada.
Dr. Avruskin used her other role as public relations committee chair of the Nevada Physical Therapy Association to coordinate "The Great Peanut Butter (& Jelly!) Challenge of 2009!" for which all physical therapists in the state can collect peanut butter and jelly in their clinics.
"PT Month is an opportunity to reach out to the community and educate the general public, other health care workers and the media about the profession of physical therapy," she said. "Community outreach activities are a great way to give back to the community, build good community relations and highlight the giving and caring nature of physical therapy."
There are more than 35 clinics registered for the Challenge so far, with over 360 physical therapists and physical therapy students involved. At the end of the month, each clinic's jar count will be divided by the number of staff, and a winner will be named. The food will be donated to the two food banks in Nevada as well as some of their partner food pantries.
"This friendly competition amongst physical therapists, however, does not overshadow the main reason we are collecting food: to help feed hungry people in our community," Dr. Avruskin emphasized. "Good nutrition is an important building block on which physical activity and fitness depend, so we are donating a protein-source food to local food banks to help support and encourage good physical fitness."
Through a recently obtained public relations grant from APTA, Dr. Avruskin will also be coordinating a new advertising campaign for PT Month which will involve sponsorships on local public radio stations and advertisements in local health magazines to capture the attention and interest of the general community.
All Fun and Games
For Reddy-Care Physical Therapy in Great Neck, NY, the PT Month celebration is centered on fun, says Allen Eshmoili, PT, MPT, OCS, CSS, vice president of operations at the facility.
Patients will get to complete crossword puzzles and riddles, guess information about staff members and participate in contests such as naming parts of the body. Throughout the month therapists will also be keeping track of patient progress and will reward the most improved with a $50 gift card. Reddy-Care is also raising money for the NY Political Action Committee (PAC) and the Foundation for Physical Therapy.
"We wanted to make it a fun month for all the patients and raise awareness," Eshmoili said. "PT Month is really all about the patients. It's a way of giving back to them and showing how much we appreciate them."