Though January is the month we all start taking a deeper look into our health with the fresh start the new year brings, October too is an important month for health. In addition to the well-known Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October is Physical Therapy Month! Let’s take a jaunt through the history of this celebration as well as offer some ways you can partake in your clinic.
History Of Physical Therapy Month
Physical therapy has been around in some form since as early as 430 BC, when Hippocrates figured out that massage and muscle manipulation was beneficial in easing pain. But it took a while for that knowledge to go mainstream. In fact, not until the 1800s, did people start giving physical therapy the respect that it deserved. And even then, there was some hesitation in accepting it as a form of treatment.
But, slowly the profession began to gain recognition and in 1921 the first physical therapy research was published in the United States. That year also marked the creation of the Women’s Physical Therapeutic Association.
Then, with the onset of war and the outbreak of polio, the profession we know as physical therapy became more widely known and accepted. In the late 1940s the Women’s Physical Therapeutic Association changed its name to the American Physical Therapy Association or APTA. Since those humble beginnings, membership in APTA has risen to over 100,000 members.
In the early 1980s, the American Physical Therapy Association created a week of recognition for physical therapists, held in June to coincide with their annual conference. Later the weekly observance was moved to October, and in 1992, Physical Therapy Month was created and expanded to cover the entire month of October.
Who Participates in Physical Therapy Month?
Physical Therapy Month is created by the American Physical Therapy Association to raise awareness about the profession of physical therapy. Members, clinics, as well as physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, and students of physical therapy not only can, but should participate. It is intended to educate the public on what a physical therapist does, as well as teach the benefits of physical therapy sessions.
Each year, there is a theme for the month-long campaign and celebration, and again, for 2021 it’s “ChoosePT.” This campaign actually launched last year and is continuing through this year. It highlights the importance of physical therapy and the role that your physical therapist, PT assistant, or PT student plays in encouraging people to get moving.
Last year was a tough one for everyone, but even before the pandemic, most people were not getting sufficient activity. PT, PTAs, and students help coach and encourage this activity, and they should be acknowledged and celebrated for their effort.
How Can You Celebrate?
There are a number of ways to celebrate the month of October as Physical Therapy Month. Keep in mind, not only are you celebrating what your PTs and PTAs do, but you are educating the public of the benefits of physical therapy:
In your clinics, you can celebrate in several ways:
Celebrate your Physical Therapists, Assistants, and Students
- Give your staff tee shirts with graphics that celebrate Physical Therapy Month.
- Choose a PT for the week or day, and give them a silly gift like a trophy or a button to wear.
- Hang posters in your clinic that let your clients know that it is Physical Therapy Month. This may increase awareness or at least start a conversation.
- Treat your staff to a catered lunch and let them know how thankful you are for their service to the profession.
Celebrate in Your Community.
- Volunteer with your staff to work at a food bank or other community outreach. Use every opportunity to celebrate and promote physical therapy.
- APTA has many resources for your participation on their site, including their ChoosePT Toolkit. In the toolkit, you have access to information, downloads and graphics that enable your promotion during the month.
- Take advantage of the free downloadable flyers for distribution at community events or at your clinic.
- Use the APTA ChoosePT graphics to update your social media postings.
- Find the free APTA downloadable public service announcement that can be downloaded to your website.
- Purchase a booth in a local community event and take along plenty of giveaways. Magnets, wristbands, and stickers are inexpensive ways to get the word out. Let people enter for a chance to win a gift card for a free or discounted service.
Get the Word Out
- Speak on media outlets promoting physical therapy month.
- Host a webinar on the benefits of staying active.
- Advertise on social media, radio or print.
- Start a contest. Base it on steps taken and award with a ChoosePT tees shirt or other swag.
- Post updates on your planned and completed activities on social media. Be sure to include plenty of photos. You could even offer incentives for sharing your posts. Include activities for all ages.
- Check out the opportunities for speaking, such as career fairs at schools or well-care clinics. Let prospective students and therapists know the importance of the role that a physical therapist plays, and the steps and education needed to get there.
Physical Therapy Month was created to inform and celebrate the physical therapy profession. It is important to support your community, educate your clients, and even use this celebration as a way to recruit new physical therapists to the profession. The month is all about awareness-learning about the profession, celebrating the people who work in the field, and highlighting the benefits that physical therapy offers the public.
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