Over the past couple of weeks a few articles have been published in the popular press that have seemingly undermined the usefulness of the physiotherapy profession, and by extension, given us physiotherapists a bad rap.
In my practice, there are three things I consider of utmost importance, my own golden triad if you will: my clients, my profession and my reputation. And I will endeavour to protect all three.
The following link will take you to one of the most prominent articles cutting down the physical therapy for injury rehabilitation.
After my first reading, I could feel my blood pressure bubble over and and those small hairs on the back of my neck rise in defensive posturing.
Within the first few lines of the article Gina Kolata wrote:
“But the letter the angry doctor had received from his insurer made me wonder whether physical therapy was different from the plasma treatment. Is there rigorous evidence showing it works?”
Here’s this journalist cutting up the profession which has given me so much and allowed me to help so many people.
Then it all made sense.
A few lines later, I realized that Ms. Kolata lumped all physiotherapists with what I refer to as “CHUM therapists” (Cold/Heat/Ultrasound/Massage):
“When I’ve gone to physical therapy, the treatments I’ve had — ice and heat, massage, ultrasound — always seemed like a waste of time. I usually went once or twice before stopping.”
It seems as though my profession had been boiled down to a few “modalities” of treatment that are typically used as quick time filler or that could or should otherwise be done at home.
It seemed as though the actual “physical” aspect had been forgotten.
Most importantly, the cerebral nature of our job description was completely omitted.
And this reminded me of something the esteemed Dr. Shirley Sahrmann, physiotherapist extraordinaire, spoke about at one of her movement impairment syndrome courses. I can’t recall her words verbatim, but in broad terms she lamented the fact that the way the industry is set up, we get paid for procedures, not to think.
Modalities are procedures. Actual physical therapy work such as progressive exercise programming requires thinking. And time.
As physiotherapists, we should be first and foremost educators. We should be teaching our clients what may be causing them pain. We should be teaching them what they can do to get out of that pain. And we should certainly be teaching them how to stay out of that pain.
And we should be using movement as our medication of choice.
Yours in movement.