#ChoosePT: National Physical Therapy Month $0.00

#ChoosePT: National Physical Therapy Month

By: Emily Nichols |
National Physical Therapy Day

Once October hits, we can expect the leaves to start changing beautiful colors and falling from the trees. Filled with cool breezes, pumpkins on porch steps, and children dressed up in costumes, we start settling down from all of the summer activities and preparing for fall. But leaves aren’t the only thing that fall at this time.

National Physical Therapy Month falls during the month of October every year!

As excited as children are to get candy walking from door to door, physical therapists are just as excited to have an entire month focused on their profession, and all of the good that they do day in and day out.

Every physical therapist plays an important role in the daily life of patients and athletes. Without them, people would continue to suffer with limited options of improving their injuries, their daily living, and their overall health. We want to take an overall look at the profession, see how far it’s come, and find out where it’s headed in the future.

Learn the background on this year’s theme of #ChoosePT for National Physical Therapy Month and how you as physical therapists can come together to help fight the opioid epidemic. By providing you with the resources and tools, hopefully you can walk away and apply something new to your practice!

The American Physical Therapy Association

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has more than 100,000 physical therapy members that it represents. The members are made up of physical therapists (PT), physical therapy assistants (PTA), and students of physical therapy.

The “APTA seeks to improve the health and quality of life of individuals in society by advancing physical therapist practice, education, and research, and by increasing the awareness and understanding of physical therapy's role in the nation's health care system.” [1]

“APTA’s goal is to foster advancements in physical therapy practice, research, and education,” according to the APTA’s website. [2]

The APTA offers a lot in the profession. Here’s a few things the APTA does that you may find valuable [3]:

  • Advocacy for members in the nation’s capital and state capitals
  • Speaking out for proper payment that will allow high-quality care for patients
  • Promoting the benefits of physical therapy by providing you with marketing and public relations tools
  • Connecting colleagues to further networking opportunities
  • Saving you money through discounts and free courses
  • Providing you information by giving you access to multiple different resources
  • Promoting evidence-based practice by giving access to clinical research
  • Strengthening your proficiency with clinical and practice resources
  • Helping you to advance to the next level

Outlook on Physical Therapy

There are 213 physical therapy education programs throughout the U.S. [2]

The APTA prepared a profile of multiple topics related to Physical Therapy ranging from the history and role to laws and standards called Today’s Physical Therapist. They define physical therapists as, “…health care professionals who maintain, restore, and improve movement, activity, and health enabling individuals of all ages to have optimal functioning and quality of life, while ensuring patient safety and applying evidence to provide efficient and effective care.” [4] By helping reduce patient’s pain and improving or restoring mobility, surgery and long-term use of medication can be avoided.

There is a high demand for PTs in healthcare. “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physical therapists is expected to grow by 36 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations.” [5] Unemployment rates for physical therapists are low throughout the U.S., although demands for PTs varies throughout regions and areas of practice. Because of the aging population and demand for physical therapy, the need for people in this profession will remain strong into the future.

Changes in Physical Therapy

Changes are constantly occurring in the healthcare world. Because of lifestyle differences and new knowledge and education about the human body, advances need to be made to keep up with changes. New developments happen and new techniques are adopted. Some of these new innovative methods are accelerating recovery as well as preventing injuries and improving physical performance.

Technology is making a huge impact on the physical therapy world through apps, rehabilitation robots, virtual reality rehab, and using gaming systems such as the Nintendo Wii in treatment plans.

Let’s take a look at three techniques that are making a difference in your world:

    1. Functional Dry Needling

  • Using a fine filiform needle, the skin is penetrated which creates a healing response in the lesioned tissue. Those who can benefit from dry needling are patients who have pain syndromes, neuromusculoskeletal disorders, and movement impairment syndromes. [6]

  • 2. Blood-Flow Restriction

  • By applying external pressure over the extremities, it maintains arterial inflow and obstructs venous outflow distal to the obstructed site. [7]

  • 3. Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)

  • Using instruments to remove scar tissue from injured soft tissues. By forming new extracellular matrix proteins, the healing process is expedited. IASTM can improve soft tissue function and range of motion after an injury while helping to reduce pain. [8]

National Physical Therapy Month: #ChoosePT

We’ve provided some information on the national physical therapy organization and looked ahead at the future of the career. Now let’s discuss the theme of this year’s National Physical Therapy Month, and how the physical therapy profession can make a difference in regards to the related topic.

We’ve seen by now that the opioid epidemic does not discriminate. Most of us know someone who has in some way been affected by the opioid and heroin abuse that is raging throughout our country. Not only can a physical therapist make a difference in patients’ lives who come in and out of their clinic, but they can be a strong influence for better pain relief options within their families and communities.

Launched back in 2016, the APTA began their #ChoosePT campaign to help battle the opioid epidemic that hit America. The goal was to help the public realize that physical therapy can be a safe and effective alternative for the treatment of pain.

Recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, physical therapy is one of the alternatives to prescribing opioids.

In an APTA news release, Joseph Brence, PT, DPT, says, “Opioids come with numerous serious side effects and only mask the sensation of pain. Research shows that physical therapist treatment can reduce or eliminate the need for opioids by improving physical function, increasing range of motion, and decreasing pain." [9]

By increasing physical activity, in participating in things such as physical therapy, it can also help to reduce your risk of other chronic diseases.

Read more from the American Physical Therapy Association in their White Paper: “Beyond Opioids: How Physical Therapy Can Transform Pain Management to Improve Health.” After providing a summary and introduction on the opioid and heroin abuse, they discuss the background on physical therapists and the role that they play not only in daily life but also in helping to make a difference during this epidemic. Before concluding, a few different scenarios including a summary, focus of care, and outcomes are listed to help bring topic full circle.

Move Forward

By heading to the #ChoosePT campaign website, Move Forward, you can find facts about pain control and the opioid epidemic. There’s tips for avoiding chronic pain and patient stories about how physical therapy has helped to change their lives for the better.

A ton of materials for the campaign, and National Physical Therapy Month, are available for download and use. Graphics and logos, handouts, messages, signs, t-shirts, and more are available for anyone who wants to help get the message out and attract attention to a better way to fight pain.

To support the campaign and get involved with celebrating National Physical Therapy Month on social media, use the #ChoosePT hashtag and follow what other physical therapists are doing for their community to make a difference!

Safer Pain Relief

Another way to gain more knowledge is to check out our Safer Pain Relief website to find out how we have gotten onboard with fighting the opioid epidemic and see our ideas and recommendations of how to help manage and educate on pain!

Find information on four main pain management products you should have in your clinic: kinesiology tape, therapeutic exercise, thermal therapy, and topical analgesics.

If you continue reading, you’ll find that we provide information on eight more alternative therapies and modalities! There is even further discussion on the techniques we mentioned earlier in the article that are making differences in the physical therapy occupation.

Read (and see) how these therapies and modalities can help you treat pain in your patients and hear from Phil Page, PhD, PT, ATC and Sue Falsone, PT, ATC on their opinions of these treatments, and how they utilize them in their own practices.

2018 Physical Therapy Day of Service

As a well to celebrate National Physical Therapy Month and make a difference throughout the communities, clear your calendar on Saturday, October 13, 2018! APTA is a partner of PT Day of Service which is a global event that was founded by physical therapists back in 2015. “Whether you are hosting an NPTM event, volunteering at a pro bono clinic, or serving the community by cleaning up a park, you’ll be joining with PTs, PTAs, and students of physical therapy across the world who are actively making a difference in their communities on or around that day.” [10]


[1] http://www.apta.org/AboutUs/

[2] http://www.apta.org/History/

[3] http://www.apta.org/Benefits/PTs/


[5] http://www.apta.org/AboutPTs/

[6] https://structureandfunction.net

[7] http://www.apta.org/PatientCare/BloodFlowRestrictionTraining/

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5331993/

[9] http://www.apta.org/Media/Releases/Consumer/2016/6/6/

[10] http://www.apta.org/PTDayofService/