October is observed as “National Physical Therapy Month (NPTM)” in the United States – an opportunity to raise awareness about the many benefits of physical therapy (PT). Sponsored by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the campaign aims to generate awareness about the key role of physical therapists and physical therapy assistants in helping people find relief from pain, improve mobility and overall functional ability and live healthier lives.
Regarded as one of the leading causes of long-term disability in the United States, chronic pain can reduce a person’s ability to perform daily activities and affect his/her quality of life. Reports suggest that about 50 million Americans are affected by chronic pain. It is estimated that chronic pain impacts the quality of life of 2 out of every 5 US adults. Low back pain and neck pain are among the top contributors to chronic pain among adults.
According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), physical therapy is the safer way to manage pain. Raising awareness about the benefits of physical therapy and how it can be used to take action against opioid addiction is the central goal of NPTM campaign in 2019. The APTA encourages people to learn about the benefits of physical therapy as a safe, non-opioid alternative for pain management. Nowadays, PT is a widely recommended non-surgical alternative to opioids that helps ease several pain symptoms thereby improving mobility and strength.
Each year, the APTA selects a specific theme to be the main focus of National Physical Therapy Month. In 2019, the APTA is focusing on “#ChoosePT” theme which encourages physical therapists to publicize the benefits of choosing physical therapy in lieu of opioid medication. The link between opioid drug abuse and physical therapy is not clear, but the problem could arise from medications prescribed for pain. Hence, by helping people manage pain with physical therapy and exercises, physical therapists hope to play a major role in combating the opioid crisis. On October 12, 2019, physical therapists and PT clinics are encouraged to participate in the PT Global Day of Service by volunteering with a local organization. Every year, PT Day of Service brings together thousands of volunteers (including PTs, PTAs, students, and physical therapy clinics and staffs) from over 50 countries. This day of service provides them an opportunity to get engaged in activities to promote healthy lifestyles and spread awareness about the importance of PT that contributes directly to the community.
National Physical Therapy Month (NPTM) was first observed as “National Physical Therapy Week” in June 1981. Later, in the year 1992, this week-long campaign was extended to a full month campaign and October was proclaimed the official month for the observance. Over these years, the scope of the campaign widened and became a recognized celebration in the National Health Observances Calendar.
As part of the campaign, a wide variety of events and activities like free posture screenings, balance assessments, fun runs, distributing handouts and materials, conducting physical therapy quiz programs and hosting the PT Olympics (wheelchair relay races and other activities) in schools and colleges are conducted across the country. Reputable multi-specialty healthcare clinics will offer gifts and other incentives to patients throughout the month. In addition, people can stay active on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and use the hash tag #ChoosePT to promote the concept of physical therapy over opioid usage in your community.
Participate in National Physical Therapy Month (NPTM) campaign this October. Find out what steps your community is taking to spread awareness about the benefits of physical therapy.