Recent Trends In Physical Therapy

By Nitin Chhoda

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has made several modifications to existing physical therapy trends under its Vision 2020 strategy. For instance, one of the tenets of Vision 2020 is autonomous practice. The APTA Board has declared that autonomous practice is applicable to all physical therapists cutting across practice setting or business arrangement, creating opportunities for a new physical therapy trend to develop.

Autonomous practice allows physical therapists to work independently, using professional judgment and adhering to the patient’s best interest. This is more of an opportunity than a physical therapy trend. The therapist has to take responsibility for the risks involved with such a profession and use proper physical therapy patient management. Physical therapists are also able to work alongside other health care providers to bring more quality care to their clients.All applicable legal and regulatory requirements in this context need to be followed.

APTA has issued guidelines specific to any physical therapy trend related to ‘telehealth’. “Telehealth” refers to the “use of electronic communication to provide and deliver a host of health-related information and health care services, including, but not limited to, ‘physical therapy-related information and services over large and small distances’. In this definition, electronic communication includes text messaging, e-mailing, faxing, using such devices as cell phones, fax machines, and the Internet, which can all contribute to the development of a new physical therapy trend.


As a result, services offered by telehealth must meet a series of requirements, as put forth by APTA. It is important that this is taken seriously and not simply considered a physical therapy trend. The patient’s safety is of utmost concern and the experience should leave the client feeling as though he or she had visited a physical therapist had been there to advise her in person.

It is now the responsibility of the physical therapist to keep client records to prove their involvement in physical therapy. Failure to do so could result in a disastrous physical therapy trend. The information needs to be kept in a way that is clear and concise. If fraudulent practices were to surface, a well-maintained practice would be safe from any type of physical therapy trend that may develop.

The changes and goals of APTA will have a strong impact on almost every physical therapy trend. With information now requiring more detail, the latest physical therapy trend may prove to become a smooth and efficient practice. A new physical therapy trend to develop in North America is that of multi-service clinics. These clinics may feature a combination of physical therapists, chiropractors, and even dentists.

The point of this type of physical therapy trend is to bring as many different services to the patient as possible. Clients appreciate having to take less time out of their busy schedules. Every practice should reap the rewards of this growing physical therapy trend and establish their office among peers when possible. Often, another health care professional’s client will stop by your office on their way to anther appointment, helping the trend to blossom and flourish.

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