To follow-up on my last post about the history of PT and if we will meet the Vision 2020, I would like to know your thoughts and ideas on what you expect to see in physical therapy over this decade.

Here are a my top 5 perspectives:

1.  Technology will come and go, as it always has and always will.

Everytime I open another magazine (especially Advance), I see tons of advertisements for new rehabilitation devices to fix this or that musculoskeletal complaint or some other device that will help market one facility over another.   I feel these devices are just like Isokinetic machines, they will come, have their glory and disappear.  How many of these machines do you sitting around a clinic as a coat rack?  Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and it has its place but as a great mind always says, “Machines don’t fix people, people fix people”.

However, I do think advancements in technology will be in the

-Field of prosthetics/orthotics (such as in a past post)

-Low-level laser treatment.  This will make ultrasound obsolete.

-Walking Assist Devices (such as from Honda), not partial-body weight supported treadmills…these seem to act just like isokinetic machines…they take up space.

-Laptops, Ipod Touches, PDAs, etc. will thrive as electronic health records are pushed in healthcare.

2.  Manual therapy will not only stay, but thrive.

Manual therapy in its many forms has certainly advanced over the past two decades.  There are tens of certifications and hundreds of courses available to train and become one with your hands.   I hope this continues to push forward as the profession grows into main provider of musculoskeletal care.  “Old fashion” putting your hands on someone will always make an impact. Keep the physical in physical therapy. Further thoughts on this:

-Massage therapy will be passed onto massage therapists.

-Muscle Energy Techniques and joint mobilizations & manipulation will continue to grow in use and shown to be superior methods in the literature.

-Manipulation will advance the most.  I’m not saying this because I do it, but manual therapy reimbursement will continue to drop per unit; we will not have time to spend doing all of these other techniques with our patients due to reimbursement dropping and we need to keep patient load up; and bottom line, its effective.

3.  Access to a physical therapist will improve.

As stated before, I do believe in physical therapists should grow as musculoskeletal specialists and direct care for patients. This can be advanced in many ways, but I feel Direct Access is the key to what we can offer to people.  The earlier we can see them, the faster the recovery with less money.  This has been shown. Legislation should hopefully continue to advance.  Lets see patients earlier to help avoid more drugs and more surgery.  Also gives the profession more respect in musculoskeletal care.

-Our brand will spread through the web and television.

You Can Be Me : A Career In Physical Therapy

-Move Forward with your life with EIM Elevator Pitch Winner 2009

Find a PT may be on Yahoo’s main page.

Rate your PT?? Could be similar to RateMDs.com

PT on Call. Ingenious idea to get relief without medication at the office, home or work when an injury occurs.  Jay Parkinson, MD, MPH has re-defined the art of medicine & even called the Doctor of the Future.  Lets pioneer the future.

4.  Education will spread through the web.

Textbooks are out.  They have been for awhile.  From powerpoints/pdf files only seen through each student’s laptop in academia, continuing education webinars, blogs & websites, online education is the future.  Your patients access their complaints online before coming to see you, so why don’t we.  Its the best way to stay up-to-date and spread knowledge between colleagues.  Obvious you are  on the way there as you are reading this post.

5. Membership in the APTA will improve.

This is hopeful aspiration, rather than an assurance.  I would like to see involvement in the professional organization increase.  This would help any advocacy issues, consumer awareness, recognition by other providers of our growth and action in the healthcare changes not only now, but in the future.  Its saddening to see the percentage of members vs nonmembers in our profession vs other healthcare professions (i.e chiropractors).

What are your visions of the upcoming 10 years?  Do you think the above is reasonable or off-track?  I would like to hear your feedback.

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