7 Myths About Physical Therapy

As a physical therapist, you are daily faced with numerous patients with different mindsets. Some have heard "too much" about physiotherapy procedures while others are totally green watching you suspiciously to see what "magic" therapy you want to give.

Either way it is your responsibility to educate everyone who comes in for physical therapy on what to expect.
Here are 7 myths highlighted by the American Physical Therapy association that need to be "busted".

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, a physician’s referral is not required in order to be evaluated by a physical therapist. Some states have restrictions about the treatment a physical therapist can provide without a physician referral.

2. Myth: Physical therapy is painful.
Fact: Physical therapists seek to minimize your pain and discomfort—including chronic or long-term pain. They work within your pain threshold to help you heal, and restore movement and function. The survey found that although 71% of people who have never visited a physical therapist think physical therapy is painful, that number significantly decreases among patients who have seen a physical therapist in the past year.

3. Myth: Physical therapy is only for injuries and accidents.
Fact: Physical therapists do a lot more than just stretch or strengthen weak muscles after an injury or surgery. They are skilled at evaluating and diagnosing potential problems before they lead to more serious injuries or disabling conditions—from carpal tunnel syndrome and frozen shoulder, to chronic headaches and lower back pain, to name a few.

4. Myth: Any health care professional can perform physical therapy.
Fact: Although 42% of consumers know that physical therapy can only be performed by a licensed physical therapist, 37% still believe other health care professionals can also administer physical therapy. Many physical therapists also pursue board certification in specific areas such as neurology, orthopedics, sports, or women’s health, for example.

5. Myth: Physical therapy isn't covered by insurance.
Fact: Most insurance policies cover some form of physical therapy. Beyond insurance coverage, physical therapy has proven to reduce costs by helping people avoid unnecessary imaging scans, surgery, or prescription drugs. Physical therapy can also lower costs by helping patients avoid falls or by addressing conditions before they become chronic.

6. Myth: Surgery is my only option.
Fact: In many cases, physical therapy has been shown to be as effective as surgery in treating a wide range of conditions—from rotator cuff tears and degenerative disk disease, to meniscal tears and some forms of knee osteoarthritis. Those who have recently seen a physical therapist know this to be true, with 79% believing physical therapy can provide an alternative to surgery.

7. Myth: I can do physical therapy myself.
Fact: Your participation is key to a successful treatment plan, but every patient still needs the expert care and guidance of a licensed physical therapist. Your therapist will leverage his or her specialized education, clinical expertise, and the latest available evidence to evaluate your needs and make a diagnosis before creating an individualized plan of care.


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Interested in the Canadian Physiotherapy Clinical Specialty Program?

A clinical specialist in physiotherapy practices at an advanced level in a particular area of specialty.

The CPA Clinical Specialty program certifies physiotherapists who have focused their careers and can demonstrate advanced clinical competence, leadership, continuing professional development, and involvement in research in a specific area of practice.

This self-directed program consists of a written portfolio submission and an oral presentation that is assessed by a panel of peers. The components of the program allow candidates to demonstrate their professional competencies and development as a clinical specialist.

The program is targeted to candidates who have a minimum of five years of full-time applied clinical experience and a minimum of 300 clinical contact hours per year for the past five years in the clinical specialty area.

In this self-directed program you have the advantage of
setting your own pace of involvement in the specialization process.

The 4 Program requirements:
1. Advanced clinical competence (5years in clinical practice, 3 of the 5 years in a specialty area, 300 clinical contact hours yearly)

2. Professional leadership (mentoring, participating in clinical education, volunteer activities etc)

3. Professional development activities (academic courses, clinical supervision of students, conferences e.t.c)

4. Involvement in research (use research to inform and guide practice, apply research findings in practice, contribute to a research project

Fall 2017 program entry deadlines:

Applications due: October 31, 2017
Stage I candidate submission due: November 30, 2017
Stage I results: February 28, 2018
Stage II candidate submission due: April 13, 2018
Stage II Case Based Discussions (oral presentation): Scheduled throughout May 2018
Stage II results: August 31, 2018

You are given up to 3years to complete stage I and II of the program.

Stage I : Candidates Portfolio
Documentation and CV
Multisource feedback tool
Clinical reflections

Stage II: Case-based discussion
3 clinical cases
90 minute discussion with assessor panel through teleconference

Areas of Specialty
The 9 Specialty areas are:

  • Cardiorespiratory
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Neurosciences
  • Oncology
  • Paediatrics
  • Pain Sciences
  • Senior's Health
  • Sport
  • Women's Health

Fees for CPA Members:
Application fee: $500 (non-refundable)
Stage I fee: $1200
Stage II fee: $950
Total: $2150

Fees for Non-Members:
Application fee: $500 (non-refundable)
Stage I fee: $2200
Stage II fee: $1300
Total: $3500

 For more information email specialization@physiotherapy.ca
Or visit their website


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