First and foremost this is absolutely NOT a knock on massage therapists or anyone who practices a type of massage as treatment. But I wanted to take the time in this post to talk about how Physical Therapy is perceived and how we as a profession still have a lot of work to do about educating the public about just how valuable physical therapy is and on exactly what we do.
So I was talking to my fiance
é one day and she was telling me a story of her interaction with one of her coworkers. At this point in time we were in Pennsylvania and I was in my last semester of PT school at Misericordia University.
She was telling her coworker that I was almost done with school and that I’d soon be a Doctor. After talking back and forth, her coworker proceeded to say something along the lines of “Physical therapists are just glorified massage therapists.”
After hearing this, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat insulted – and like my opening sentence read THIS IS NOT A KNOCK ON MASSAGE THERAPISTS. But I felt somewhat insulted because I was thinking to myself .. “I haven’t been going to school for almost 7 years to be labeled as a glorified massage therapist.” But then after thinking about it for a little longer I finally understood, and honestly, I couldn’t blame them for their perception.
Many people have a differing view on physical therapy and the reason why is because there is no standard to how PT is really done. Everyone knows what to expect when going to a physician’s office, dentist, chiropractor, or to a massage therapist. When a patient comes to me for physical therapy I ask them if they’ve ever had PT services before and more often than not they either say “No, I haven’t” or “Yes, but it was so different”.
As PT’s we need to do a better job of educating patients on what physical therapists do and what our role is. We are MOVEMENT EXPERTS. We are PAIN EXPERTS. We know our human anatomy in and out from where a muscle connects, how it works, and what happens when a muscle becomes injured. We are experts on human biomechanics and kinesiology and why a person might be compensating in how they run, walk, or lift. We know so much about the human body from the cardiovascular system to the nervous system. We know how to prescribe exercises for deconditioned individuals, the geriatric population, children, and even powerlifting, CrossFit, and bodybuilding. We are experts on how to make certain movements or motions easier to perform. We literally know EVERYTHING about the human body and as PT’s we need to keep educating our patients on our role and how we CAN HELP.
So as a profession we need to continually educate the public and what it is we do by getting involved in the community, getting involved in social media, and continually educating our patients on a daily basis about our role in THEIR HEALTH. We don’t just give massages (although we do that pretty well! LOL) – we do a host of other things. I’m hoping through this blog and through our social media accounts that you can get a better understanding of the profession that I truly care about!
Dr. Jomar Farrales, PT, DPT