Blogs and Tweets and Posts Oh, My: Support for Therapy Cap Repeal Gets Creative

APTA members and supporters are keeping the pressure on the US Senate to consider an amendment that would end the therapy cap, and, true to the profession, doing it with plenty of energy and creativity.

In addition to APTA’s own grassroots efforts to ensure that a therapy cap repeal amendment is included in legislation to end the sustainable growth rate (SGR),Joseph Brence, PT, DPT, FAAOMPT, used his “Forward Thinking PT” blog to urge physical therapists (PTs) to contact their senators, and he compiled a list of social media handles that makes it easy to post to legislators’ and staffers’ Twitter accounts. The list also includes links to each senator’s Facebook page.

Many PT and physical therapist assistant (PTA) students are answering APTA’s request for phone calls, but with a twist: yesterday, they began answering a challenge from APTA to document their phone calls to senators by posting photos on Twitter. You can check out the photos through this Storify page. Great stuff.

Full story of support or therapy cap repeal at APTA

Stenosis Findings Point to Need for Patient-Provider Conversation About Physical Therapy as First Treatment

News of the latest research on physical therapy’s effectiveness in easing spinal stenosis symptoms is spreading fast and, with it, the idea that health care providers and patients need to engage in well-informed conversations that include nonsurgical as well as surgical options for the condition.

Coverage, which has now grown to include the Huffington Post, WebMD, and US News and World Report, focuses on a study of self-reported physical function among 169 participants diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) and divided into 2 treatment groups—1 that began with surgery and 1 that began with physical therapy.

Full story of stenosis and PT as first treatment at APTA

Wide Support for Therapy Cap Repeal; Your Voice Needed Now

With friends like this, you could make therapy cap history.

As APTA, its members, and supporters continue to engage in a full-court press to urge US senators to allow an amendment to permanently repeal the Medicare outpatient therapy cap, they can take heart in one important fact: they’re not alone. According to APTA, no fewer than 24 other organizations also back the idea of putting an end to the cap.

The combined efforts are now being applied to an historic opportunity to end the cap as part of a bill that would repeal the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR); specifically, to convince the Senate to allow consideration of an amendment from Sen Ben Cardin (D-MD) to put permanent repeal of the cap in the bill. APTA is urging members and patients to contact their senators using the messaging available on the Medicare Therapy Cap webpage.

Full story of the therapy cap repeal at APTA

Physical Therapy’s Effects Equal to Surgery for Spinal Stenosis Symptoms

Physical therapy for spinal stenosis is as effective as surgery and should be fully considered as a first-choice treatment option, according to a new study that is the first to directly compare a single, evidence-based physical therapy regimen with decompression surgery among patients who agreed to be randomly assigned to either approach.

The study focused on self-reported physical function among 169 participants diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) after 2 years, but it also tracked function measurements along the way–at baseline, 10 weeks, 6 months, and 12 months. Researchers found that not only were 2-year effects similar for the 2 groups (87 who began with surgery and 82 who started with physical therapy), the increase in function followed similar trajectories from baseline on.

Full story of PT effects on spinal stenosis at APTA

Possible Therapy Cap Repeal Amendment Could Make History; Every PT Can Help Shape the Vote

A permanent repeal of the Medicare outpatient therapy cap could be closer than ever if Congress allows one senator’s proposed amendment to be considered. Now it’s time to make that possibility a reality, according to APTA.

Last week, Sen Ben Cardin (D-MD) announced that he is prepared to lead the way in the fight to end 18 years of temporary fixes to the therapy cap by ending the cap completely. The historic change would come through an amendment to a bill, passed by the House of Representatives and awaiting Senate consideration, that seeks to end the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR).

Full story of therapy cap repeal amendment at APTA

CMS Offers Update on Therapy Cap, SGR in Wake of March 31 Expirations

While APTA, its members, and supporters continue to press legislators to include a permanent repeal of the Medicare therapy cap in a proposed bill to end the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR), the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has posted an update on where things stand now that an important deadline has passed.

A special edition of the Medicare Learning Network’s provider enews recaps changes that kicked in when SGR and therapy cap exceptions expired on March 31.

In the newsletter, CMS states that it is “taking steps to limit the impact on Medicare providers and beneficiaries by holding claims for a short period of time.” The resource also outlines the current state of the therapy cap, ambulance services, and other areas.

Full story of therapy gap and SGR at APTA

PT in Motion Magazine: PT and Teammates Totally Space Out

You know it’s a serious long-distance relay race when NASA Mission Control has to get involved.

This month’s PT in Motion magazine cover story tells the story of 6 people—Tim Flynn, PT, PhD, OCS, FAAOMPT, among them—who decide they’d like to participate in the Wild West relay, a 200-mile event held in Colorado. There was just one wrinkle in the plan. More like a schedule conflict, really.

Turns out that one team member would be orbiting the earth during the race. But hey, why should that stop him from doing his part for the team?

“May the Force Be With You” in the April issue explains not only how team member Steven Swanson, PhD, participated in the relay race from the International Space Station, but also dives into exactly how it is that astronauts battle bone density and muscle weakness (hint: it involves pneumatic pressure and lots of bungee cords), and touches on how keeping astronauts fit in space can help earthbound physical therapists and their patients or clients.

Full story of PT spacing out at APTA

Doubts About Acetaminophen for LBP, OA Lead to Discussion of Effectiveness of Exercise

A new study that questions the effectiveness of acetaminophen for low back pain (LBP) and hip or knee osteoarthritis (OA) has also sparked a discussion about what does work: namely, movement and exercise.

The study itself, published in the March 31 British Medical Journal (BMJ), analyzed results from 13 randomized clinical trials that evaluated short-term pain and disability outcomes for a total of 5,366 patients who received either acetaminophen or a placebo for LBP (1,825 patients) or OA (3,541 patients).

Researchers concluded that evidence was strong that acetaminophen is “ineffective” for reducing pain intensity or improving quality of life in the short term for people with LBP, and provides “minimal short-term benefit” for individuals with hip or knee OA.

Full story of acetaminophen for LBP at APTA

Study: Early Mobility Sparks Biochemical Change to Fight Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

The benefits of early movement and exercise for patients in intensive care units (ICUs) are well-known. Less clear is what happens within the body to bring those benefits, particularly in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Now researchers working with mice on treadmills think they’re closer to understanding at least some of the positive biochemical changes that are triggered by early mobility.

Researchers from Wake Forest University injected mice with a chemical that produced acute lung injury similar to ARDS, and then exercised them on treadmills from 5 minutes a day to 35 minutes twice a day. What they found was that exercise acts on several different proteins that serve as a “rheostat” to turn down the immune response associated with ARDS.

In other words, not only did early mobility counter muscle wasting, it helped regulate body chemistry in ways that diminished ARDS. The results were published in the March 11 edition of Science Translational Medicine.

Full story of early movement and respiratory distress syndrome at APTA

Physical Therapy vs Imaging Study Hits the Washington Post

Research on the cost-savings of physical therapy vs advanced imaging has been making news in professional circles, and now it’s making an even more public splash.

On March 27, The Washington Post published an article summarizing the findings of research that compared health costs for patients with uncomplicated low back pain (LBP) who were referred to physical therapy with patients referred for advanced imaging. As reported in PT in Motion News, the results showed that physical therapy typically resulted in dramatically lower subsequent costs than a first referral for imaging. The original research article was published in the journal Health Services Research.

The Post article characterized the reasons for the differences as being “more likely found in the heads of patients and doctors than in anyone’s back.” Post reporter Lenny Bernstein writes that patients with uncomplicated first-time LBP can “pressure” physicians for a referral, and physicians may comply—sometimes with a referral for advanced imaging, sometimes for a referral to physical therapy.

Full story of PT vs imaging study at APTA