Physical therapists (otherwise know as physiotherapists or "physios" in most other countries worldwide) are, without question, the practitioners of choice for the first line of assessment and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, and in the prevention of injury and optimization of human performance.
The mission of the Physio One Project is to be a strong advocate for professional autonomy within the world of physical therapy, and to promote consumer awareness and advocacy regarding the role, evidence, standards, and outcomes of physical therapy in both health and health care, injury recovery and injury prevention. This will focus on 3 key areas:
In the vast majority of countries, patients have direct access to a physiotherapist, much as they would a doctor, osteopath, chiropractor, or massage therapist. They practice as autonomous providers in that they do not require a referral or the permission of a gatekeeper to evaluate and treat patients. This is considered the accepted standard of care in most countries.
Currently, 17 states have direct access to evaluation and treatment by a physical therapist. Although 48 states have some degree of access, only 17 states have legislation that provides a patient with the right to access a physical therapist for evaluation and treatment without a gatekeeper.
It depends on who you ask. The gatekeepers will tell you it is an issue of protecting your safety - though these claims continue to be refuted by research time and time again. They have not sought to impose these regulations on other health care providers. Sadly, the issue is not one of public safety or other issue. The gatekeeper model is a legalized monopoly, and the limits to the patient's access to care are related more to protection of turf than they are to the betterment of the health care system or providing patients with greater options for care.
Consumer awareness of physical therapy - and the limiters to practice that are imposed on the profession from outside special interest groups - is low. If the consumers don't know the issues - then, well, the issues really don't exist in anyone's minds but our own.Thus begins a virtual cycle of "accepted standards of care" in the community, and the consumer simply doesn't have the information to understand the issues at hand and how they affect their quality of care, access to care, and cost of care.
Consumers are also not aware of "evidence-based practice" and how these issues affect their health care. All providers are not created equal - and some utilize evidence-based strategies far more than others. Again, it is in the best interests of the consumer to understand what these strategies are, and how they impact their care and provide better outcomes. Let's make "evidence-based standards of care" the new community standard.
Professional associations are, quite frankly, too busy putting money towards lobbyists. And lobbyists are too busy accepting these dollars. And while these factions continue to wage legislative battles that are driven by campaign dollars and broken promises, the consumer continues to suffer. The growth of the profession in the United States is also limited internally by those that desire to remain subservient ancillary providers even though their training and clinical expertise says otherwise. A strong consumer voice is necessary.
Simple - your voice! The P1 Project's primary goal is effective consumer awareness and advocacy. Consumers have votes - and votes decide legislators' fate.
The P1 Project will not devote any finances to political campaigns. Funding will be directed towards a grass roots effort for change. If the voice is loud enough, and disruptive enough, change will occur. We have seen this throughout world history, and this will be no different.
Further information on the history of the P1 Project and its origins can be found in Episode 13 of the podcast "Consumer's Guide To Health" which can be found here. You can also read "Vision Now: A Physical Therapist Manifesto", a "call to arms" for the profession as a whole.
I hope you will join us in the discussion and in supporting the P1 Project.
Allan Besselink, PT, Dip.MDT has a unique voice in the world of sport and health care, one that has been defined by his experiences as physiotherapist, mentor, McKenzie practitioner, coach, innovator, author, educator, patient, and athlete. Read more about Allan, contact him, get updates via email, or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.