Physical therapy may mean something different to you than me. I elaborated on this briefly in my last blog post. Physical therapy is my career, my passion and my intellectual escape. I live and breathe physical therapy and am extremely fortunate to have found a calling in a career that enables me to explore many different opportunities in education, research and of course, patient care.

How do others define ‘physical therapy?’

I did a quick Google search for “physical therapy” and “physical therapist.”

According to:

TheBalance.com – These health professionals use a variety of techniques, called modalities, to restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities in their patients. Wikipedia.com – Physical therapy (PT), mostly known as Physiotherapy, is one of the allied health professions that, by using mechanical force and movements [Bio-mechanics or Kinesiology], Manual therapy, exercise therapy, and electrotherapy, remediates impairments and promotes mobility and function. Physical therapy is used to improve a patient’s quality of life through examination, diagnosis, prognosis, and physical intervention. It is performed by physical therapists (known as physiotherapists in many countries). American Physical Therapy Association – Physical therapists can teach patients how to prevent or manage their condition so that they will achieve long-term health benefits. PTs examine each individual and develop a plan, using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. In addition, PTs work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles. You get the point.

What do all of these definitions have in common? Improving function! The disconnect I have seen in this “sick care system” is that function is arbitrary! In fact, in the eyes of insurance companies, 85% return to function is a success.

Can you imagine: only receive 85% pain relief from back pain? 85% plantar fasciitis relief? 85% of the range of motion of your joints?

Don’t even get me talking about running! That’s classified as a “participation restriction,” meaning the insurance company views running as leisurely activity. In my experience in this “sick care system,” once someone gets to running, they’re already on their way out. What happened to getting people better and keeping them better?

What if you are a runner and your goal was to get back to a 6:00 minute mile pace after rehabilitating from knee pain? Wouldn’t you have apprehensions about returning to a sport you love knowing that you were discharged at 85%? How would that make you feel?

As a profession that prides itself on helping individuals return to function (and supposedly pain-free!), we’ve been doing a lousy job succumbing to the present day circumstances of care.

How can this be remedied?

Be inside a model that VALUES your 100% return to function.

The cash-based model affords me the ability to be 100% patient-focused geared towards facilitating 100% complete return to the activities you love to do, whatever they are. I am able to restore function, eliminate pain and encourage performance. This is Physical Therapy at its best. That’s what Physical Therapy means to me.