Health care mechanics

 

Last updated 7/5/2022 at Noon



After that injury from accident, joint replacement, stroke, or even everyday backache; after the doctors, the hospital, or the rehab center, come the visits to physical therapists some liken to medical mechanics. Whatever one chooses to call these trained professionals, hundreds and hundreds of Sisters Country folk count themselves among the grateful for the healing arts they’ve received from one of Sisters’ skilled PT providers.

There are 110,000 licensed physical therapists in the U.S. and each sees between 100 and 200 patients a week. Of the nearly 30 million patients treated annually, 46 percent are seeking relief from chronic spine pain. It’s a big business, some $33 billion annually. Estimates are that physical therapy can save as much as 72 percent of the cost of being treated in the hospital or other in-patient facility.

Often overlooked are the number of patients who see a physical therapist before hospitalization or for conditions other than injury or pain, like Huntington’s disease or cerebral palsy. Ask anybody with Parkinson’s and they are likely to tell you of the help provided by a PT. Diabetics often benefit from the services of a PT.

Lymphedema, or excess fluids gathered in the lymphatic system, which then moves around in the bloodstream, causing swelling, is among the many non-spinal or injury-based treatments provided. Physical therapists use Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) to reduce swelling and prevent future fluid buildup. Chronic fatigue, burns, vertigo, sciatica, scoliosis, fibromyalgia, TMJ, and more – the range of treated ailments is vast.

Women comprise 59.6 percent of licensed therapists, whose average age is 41. Cases generally break down as musculoskeletal (79.3 percent), neuromuscular (15.3 percent), cardiopulmonary (2.8 percent), integumentary (1 percent), and other (1.6 percent). Patient ages were under 2 years (1.5 percent), 2-10 years (4.1 percent), 11-17 years (6.6 percent), 18-19 years (26.7 percent), 20-64 years, (25 percent) and over 65 years of age (36.1 percent). Fifty-five percent of patients are female.

Physical therapists are medical professionals. To be eligible to sit for the national exam (NPTE), a candidate needs to graduate from an accredited higher educational institution with a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree.

Several colleges and universities in Oregon offer DPT degrees including OSU Cascades in Bend, part of Oregon State University system. Not too distant Lebanon, Oregon, is home to Western University Health Sciences turning out DPT grads. Pacific University in Forest Grove is another Oregon institution of higher learning where DPT degrees are conferred.

These are post-graduate degrees taking three years to complete. As such, accredited graduates are entitled to be addressed as “doctor” but undoubtedly you will be told by the doctor to call them by their first name, the customary practice.

As physical therapy involves a great deal of touch, more so than most medical arts, it is imperative that the therapist and patient connect on a personal level from the outset.

To be licensed in Oregon, applicants must also take and pass the Oregon Pain Commission’s Pain Management Module and a criminal background check. Oregon allows patient self-referral, or direct access, for physical therapy. Therefore, a prescription from an approved provider is not required. Your insurance carrier is likely to have strict rules, however, before reimbursement.

Patients in Sisters Country have a good choice of practitioners.

Some 10 licensed and accredited doctors of physical therapy in Sisters are meeting the needs of our growing population. The active lifestyle enjoyed by Sisters Country residents is fodder for the practitioners who regularly treat sports-related and injuries from other outdoor-centered activities.

 

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