Evidence-based zealots, robotic clinicians, animated youtube videos of physical therapists turning patients away due to lack of support from randomized controlled trials — There are numerous examples, said in different ways, but ultimately the message is the same. Physical therapists, in hopes of being evidence-based, become handcuffed by research and in doing so lose their ability to empathize and stymy their flexibility in clinical reasoning.Read More
She sat there, leaning back in her recliner, listing off the numerous side effects she had been enduring since resuming her experimental chemotherapy agent. Nausea, fatigue, headache, poor appetite, wild swings in blood pressure, dizziness.
“It’s a really hard drug for me. It takes its toll. I stand up to go do things around the house and just getting up can wipe me out. Then, I realize ‘maybe I’m not as young as I want to be!’” she explains.Read More
I have previously tried to limit the impact of my personal preferences on my writing. I justified this choice as being useful to reach a larger number of professionals in my field, and ultimately, have a greater influence on clinical practice. Emphatic, assertive statements tend to garner massive support amongst those who already agree with you, but this also leads to quick dismissal from those who fall outside of that group. While this may be true, unspoken points of view also fail to impact beliefs just the same. Backfire effect aside, I am stepping onto a pedestal for a moment to tackle a large pet-peeve of mine that’s been circulating around social media.
In the United States, physical therapists aspire to fulfill a central and irreplaceable role in the musculoskeletal realm. Our profession seeks to “transform society” and “improve the human experience” through our care. An obstacle to occupying this prominent seat at the healthcare table has been our nebulous identity in the eyes of the public. Other medical professions have a clearly demarcated service to provide whereas we struggle to generate a consistent image.Read More
Science, to be at its best, needs to be a social process. The collaboration between individuals fosters the development of research ideas, allows for checks and balances of published findings, improves the dissemination of research and allows for valuable peer review. With the proliferation of social media, this social aspect of science is more rapid and accessible, opening the doors to individuals from wide and varied backgrounds to engage in and contribute to this process. We are fortunate to now exist in an environment that allows research to be shared, discussed and critiqued across a wide variety of mediums. There are several podcasts, blogs, discussion forums and forward thinking publication platforms that provide content, often free of charge, that exemplify science as a social process.Read More
Effective healthcare can be thought of as delivering the most beneficial treatment(s) at the minimum dosage required to produce a positive outcome that outweighs associated side effects and cost. Unfortunately, healthcare is too often wrought with overdiagnosis, overtreatment and exorbitant costs while producing a less than desirable outcome. Pain, in particular, is an overwhelming burden on both individuals and society at large with an estimated economic cost of 560-635 billion dollars a year. This is in part due to an abundance of diagnostic approaches that fail to identify meaningful pathology, leading to numerous treatments that fall short of delivering a meaningful outcome. Unfortunately, many of the treatments designed to address people’s pain have been well studied and found to lack a meaningful benefit, but nevertheless, these interventions continue to be delivered, often by passionate purveyors eager to fill a desperate need.
In the face of evidence demonstrating that many of the treatments offered to patients fail to justify their continued use when adequately controlled and studied, why do ineffective treatments persist in clinical practice? Many of the contributing issues are by no means unique to physical therapy and more broadly are inherent to human nature and reasoning. Nevertheless, I am a physical therapist and as such these issues will be viewed through a physical therapy lens.Read More