Last week, I attended the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) Combined Sections Meeting (CSM). CSM is the largest national conference which the APTA hosts. This year, the conference was in Anaheim, CA, and over 11,000 people were in attendance! This post will be a brief summary of my conference take-aways.
Two of the sessions I attended were clinical in nature. One involved how to incorporate pain science education into clinical care, and the other was about exercise prescription for neuromuscular re-education. The pain science session was incredible! Physical therapists are experts in helping manage musculoskeletal pain, and that includes chronic pain. There can be changes in the nervous system itself, causing the system which is responsible for helping us feel pain to become extra-sensitive. When this happens, you have to treat the alarm system (i.e., the nervous system) too. This won’t work though if the patient doesn’t understand what is contributing to their pain. Their pain is real, but it may not be just from the tissues. This session gave me some strategies to help teach my patients about pain in a way that is effective.
The other clinical session which I attended was about exercise prescription. My biggest take away from this is that many PTs are not prescribing exercise in a way that will result in the desired tissue changes (whether you’re shooting for endurance, power, coordination, etc). So often, the classic “3 sets of 10 reps” is prescribed. There is a time and place for that, but we must be clinically reasoning for each and every exercise dose we prescribe. The speaker also gave us a few clinical pearls from select research papers that can bust some myths about common PT exercises. It’s always great to learn how research is either supporting or negating what we are doing so our practice can continue to improve.
I went to a few business sessions, and lastly, I went to some soft-skills sessions. I attended one patient panel and one lecture on relationship-centered care. The big take-away here is that we need to remember that we are treating people, not just “the total knee” or the “neck pain” guy. Every person has a different story, and we have to understand that story to best connect with them. We have to ask the right questions AND listen. By first developing the relationship, we will have the best chance at the helping the person achieve their goals and enjoy the therapy process.
I will begin to implement the things that I learned immediately and I will share what I learned with my colleagues. If you have any questions about what I learned or what else was happening at the conference, feel free to ask in the comment section!
As a follow up to last month’s #getPT1st blog post, I want to take the opportunity to educate you all about direct access. Direct access means that you can see a physical therapist without a referral from another provider. In the past, you had to get a referral for PT services from a physician. That has changed as insurance companies have been provided with data that demonstrates that physical therapy is cost-effective, safe, and produces meaningful long-term outcomes.
Each state is different, so check out this link to learn more about direct access in your state. In Washington state where we are located, we have almost full direct access. We must refer out when a patient’s condition is outside our scope of practice and we cannot use orthotics in treatment without a referral. That’s it!
There is one catch, however. I must say that despite legal direct access, insurance companies can still choose to limit payments at their own discretion. My advice to you is to take the time to call your insurance company and ask if they require a referral for payment for physical therapy services. If they don’t, you’re good to go! If they do, then you will need to contact your physician for a referral still.
Direct access can save you time and money! You don’t have to spend a few hours at the doctor’s office just to have them tell you to go to physical therapy. You don’t have to pay for that office visit to them. We have the highest knowledge of musculoskeletal conditions second only to orthopedic surgeons (Childs, J.D., et al., A description of physical therapists’ knowledge in managing musculoskeletal conditions. BMC Musculoskelet Disord, 2005. 6: p. 32.)
If you have any questions about direct access or physical therapy, contact us at 425-673-5220 or firstname.lastname@example.org We’d love to be a resource for you!
Ah- the tangled web we weave… Ever feel that way about trying to navigate Physical Therapy?
October Is National PT Month and the 7-Myths about Physical Therapy has just been released by the #APTA (you can check it out at http://www.moveforwardpt.com/). I’ll share them with you, each with its own blog post- and give you my take.
1. Myth: I need a referral to see a physical therapist.
Fact: A recent survey by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) revealed 70% of people think a referral or prescription is required for evaluation by a physical therapist. However, all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC) allow patients to be evaluated by a physical therapist without a physician’s prior referral.
In the state of Washington- we have direct referral. Meaning that if you wake up with back pain- you can call MOSAIC and we will get you in that day! No waiting for your MD. In fact, what are you waiting for? You have probably met your insurance deductible this year. Make sure to reap all your benefits!