Preventative medicine has seen a large increase in popularity to avoid more expensive and invasive medical procedures; therefore, body therapy practices have seen a lot more patients than ever before. However, this also means our offices are overflowing with concerned guests and our appointment books are running out of space. And unfortunately, health insurance only will pay for a certain number of visits so it is important to make sure that consumers know what will be helpful for them.
Save yourself the stress and avoid dealing with the question from upset patients of “is this really necessary?” In all honesty, a lot of practices physical therapists engage in on a daily basis are expensive and really do not help a patient very much. In order to create happy and healthy visitors in your PT practice, its important to educate them. A lot of the routine things that you do for patients could easily be done by them at home or completely taken out of their requirements all together. In the long run, informed patients will save a lot of time, energy and be extremely thankful.
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is the first non-medical organization to participate with Consumer Report’s “Choose Wisely” campaign. The objective of Choose Wisely is to eliminate the unnecessary tests and orders physicians make everyday. Each group that gets involved names five treatments that are expensive, ineffective in recovery, or even harmful. APTA provided their own lists for consumers to question when they are in physical therapy offices.
5 PT Practices Patients Probably Don’t Need
1. Hot and Cold Treatments
Sure, ice packs and hot treatments, like the ultrasound, can make pain temporarily feel better or help relax a patient before exercise. However, there is no proof that this will help them heal any faster. In fact, using cooling and heating treatments can harm patients by increasing their fears of being physically active when they are in pain. Recommend patients reserve their ice packs and heat pads for their own home use.
2. The Wrong Kind of Strength Training for Older Adults
Elderly people have a high likelihood of losing muscle strength from inactivity or illness. Then, along with loss of muscle, their chances of falling and hurting themselves or becoming immobile increases as well. Physical therapy is crucial to develop exercises to build patient’s strength. A huge issue however is that more often than not, PTs are teaching their older patients exercises that are simply too easy and therefore ineffective out of fear of hurting them. Then the patient is just wasting time and money while still at high risk of falls. However, patients should still go easy when they have inflamed joints (i.e. swollen elbow.)
3. Bed Rest for Blood Clots
Another issue for older adults is developing blood clots after surgery. When this occurs, patients are usually given a blood clot dissolving medication and put on bed rest in order to prevent the clot from breaking and causing fatal pulmonary embolisms. However, studies now show that bed rest does not help. Bed rest can actually put patients at dangerous risks of developing another clot or have their existing clot grow in size. And in fact, getting mobile with walking around can be a positive thing for patients by relieving pain and reducing swelling. Physical therapists can start helping patients walk ASAP or teach them how to do it on their own.
4. Exercise Machines (CPM) after Knee-Replacement
Studies are showing that using huge CPM machines for patients still in bed after a knee-replacement does not improve knee pain or help straighten the leg. Although it is normal practice for patients to begin physical therapy within 24-hours of their knee-replacing surgery, these should be standard movements like showing them how to get out of a chair and walk around. Continuous passive motion (CPM) machines are ineffective, expensive to rent and no evidence supports them improving a patient’s well-being after receiving a new knee.
5. Whirlpools for Wound Care
Wounds that are slow or infected are often asked to be healed in a whirlpool in order to clean them. However, physical therapists need to stop this unsanitary practice. There are way more effective, clean and gentle ways to treat wounds like simply rinsing them with salt-water. Whirlpools should only be used for physical injuries like a sport accident, not flesh wounds. The risk of spreading bacteria or getting painful chemicals in wounds can cause serious issues.
For the full Choosing Wisely report click here.