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Opioid Crisis: NJ Physical Therapists Stand Ready

Monday, February 6, 2017   (2 Comments)
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At the American Physical Therapy Association of NJ, we are delighted that there appears to be legislative momentum related to addressing what has been called the single-greatest, man-made health crisis in history -- the opioid crisis, which has roots in an even larger pain-crisis and is claiming thousands of lives across America; many from right here in New Jersey. 

As anyone who has experienced substantial pain might agree, it can impact nearly every facet of life. People in pain begin to move differently and may limit their activity overall, which can impact their role as parent, friend or co-worker. The longer pain persists, the greater the likelihood that a person will feel down about themselves or even fearful that they might trigger pain again, adding additional negative impact and harming their quality of life as they spend more time as a "patient" and less time as everything else. This can quickly spiral into financial strain as medical bills pile up and reliance on pain-control mechanisms like opioid medications, that rarely (if ever) work on the actual cause of the pain, begin to take hold.

As professionals that work very closely with individuals experiencing pain, Physical Therapists are often at the crossroads of pain science research and its practical application in the clinical setting. We are conservative-care professionals that use non-medication based approaches and techniques and have amassed a skill set and knowledge base that allows us to not-only appreciate the very complex nature of pain, but to relay this understanding to our clients, patients, friends and communities in a way that helps to disarm the grip it can have on lives, address the cause and help them MOVE...toward a cure.

Although we may not agree with items that add administrative burden to our medical colleagues or limit the availability of medications that in certain circumstances may be needed, we believe that given the size and expanse of this crisis, something significant must be done if we are to get ahead of the problem.

Whether it be educating our communities about pain and the risks of not addressing it properly or working closer than ever with our medical colleagues who are looking for the types of non-medication based therapies like ours that are being recommended as first line defenses by the experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Surgeon General's office, NJ Physical Therapists in every county stand ready to roll up our sleeves and join the fight against this crisis because we believe that our communities deserve it.

 

To Health,

 

Mike Eisenhart, PT

President, APTANJ

Comments...

Michael T. Eisenhart says...
Posted Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Great thoughts Michael. Not ironically I had the chance to have dinner & a great conversation w/Dr George as part of the Movement System Summit that we both attended a few months ago....he is a strong light in our profession and his lecture is one that everyone should watch and ponder: http://www.apta.org/NEXT/2016/MaleyLecture/ Whereas I don't think it will ever be a perfect time to enter a crisis situation, this should not stop us from doing what we can with the tools we have....we should not sit back and watch as our communities grapple with something we can help with. While I agree that pursuing a next generation (or #PTVersion2 as I am fond of calling it) toolkit should be a high priority, we can play a role now, and we should. I would welcome a conversation on this topic as bringing a more informed pain science approach to NJ citizens makes a ton of sense. Thx.
Michael L. D'Agati says...
Posted Monday, February 6, 2017
Dear Mike, I wholeheartedly agree that PTs could have a primary role in dealing with both the opioid and chronic pain epidemics. However, I'm concerned about entering the battlefield unprepared. Dr. Steven George, in his 21st John. H.P. Maley Lecture entitled “Revolution of Pain Management,” expresses this concern deftly. He points out, with supporting data, that current entry-level curricula, as well as residency/fellowship programs, lack adequate training in pain management based in current pain science. PTs are often inadequately equipped for this battle. If the most newly educated PTs are the lacking most up-to-date training, what is the likelihood that the PTs trained earlier are current? Most PTs were graduated before much of the current pain science applications even emerged. There are some good Con Ed options (e.g., NOI, EBM, etc). What percent of the PTs that will be receiving this influx of chronic pain patients have taken these courses? Are we ready?

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