Why Seeing Your Physical Therapist Annually Matters

Dr. Carole B. Lewis, DPT, GCS, GTC, MSG, PhD, FAPTA, a private practitioner and consulting clinical specialist for Pivot Physical Therapy, has written a must-read new piece on the importance of annual physical therapy screening, especially for people 50 and over.

The piece is published in the Atlas of Science and is titled “Our future selves, unprecedented opportunities.”

The post states: “Too often I hear older patients ask, “Why didn’t someone tell me this earlier?” Their forward head, muscle weakness, ankle inflexibility or balance issues did not develop overnight. Annual physical therapy screens and exercise programs starting at age 50 or younger could prevent injurious falls, reduce compression fractures and improve quality of live. Most people know that physical therapists are essential to rehabilitation after surgery or accidents, but too few realize that physical therapists are the key to optimal aging.”

It continues: “I foresee a future in which physical therapists use their knowledge and skill to assess and fix functional problems with appropriately prescribed and monitored exercise and their arsenal of treatment options. Functional assessment and exercise are not one size fits all quick fixes. They are part of a timed, incremental, and long-term approach perfected through expertise and skilled patient motivation. Yet many of our peers in medicine and the general population view these tasks as generic. No physician would give every patient an aspirin for every problem. That would be malpractice. Hence, telling patients to ‘exercise’ without seeing a therapist who can properly assess a person’s individual needs, is also malpractice. Everyone, but especially middle aged and older persons will benefit significantly from annual screenings conducted by physical therapists, much like annual dental checkups. A tweaking or prescription for a more detailed intervention can help prevent disability in the future.”

At Pivot, in keeping with what Dr. Lewis writes, we offer a functional evaluation for seniors. This evaluation consists of a series of functional movement tests that compare ones level of physical ability to benchmark norms for age groups 60-90 years old.

As we previously reported, Dr. Lewis received the highest honor bestowed by the American Physical Therapy Association – the Mary McMillan Lecturer Award. This tribute is conferred on one therapist each year who has made distinguished, far reaching, publicly visible, continuous, and enduring contributions to the profession of physical therapy.