Category: occupational therapy

HHS to States: Ease State Laws and Regs Now

The Department of Health and Human Services says that federal waivers can only go so far, and calls on states to quickly act to relax licensure, telehealth, and other requirements that may impede an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is calling on states to take “immediate actions” to relax laws and regulations that HHS thinks could get in the way of effective health care responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The recommended actions include licensure exemptions and disciplinary moratoriums, waiver of telemedicine practice prohibitions, relaxation of scope-of-practice requirements, and easing of malpractice liability.

In a March 24 letter to U.S. state governors, HHS Secretary Alexander Azar wrote that the requests are being made “to carry outa whole-America response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” adding that “your help is needed to ensure health professionals maximize their scopes of practice and are able to travel across state lines or provide telemedicine to their communities or where they are needed most.”

Full article at APTA

Physical Therapists, Physical Therapist Assistants, and Occupational Therapists Online CEUs

Asking the Right Questions About Telehealth

As the coronavirus pandemic worsens, PTs and PTAs are looking for answers around what they can and can’t do in terms of telehealth. APTA’s advice: Get the right answers by asking the right questions.

According to Alice Bell, PT, DPT, APTA senior payment specialist, in addition to federal-level changes around digital communications with patients, the telehealth environment is also evolving rapidly at both the private payer and state regulatory levels.

“Right now, there’s a great deal of confusion around the coverage of telehealth when provided by physical therapists,” Bell said. “Some broad policies and federal and state legislation may be interpreted as including physical therapists even though this is not explicitly stated.”

Daniel Markels, APTA state affairs manager, says that miscommunication can make matters worse.

Full article at APTA

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What’s Muscle Tone, Anyway?

Professional Physical Therapy and Nutley Midtown Clinical Director Nicholas Licameli are featured on in an article titled, “What’s Muscle Tone, Anyway?”

In the article, Nicholas talks about the way to talk about muscles and stretching. “Some buzz terms you may have heard when it comes to stretching and foam rolling are muscle lengthening, breaking down scar tissue, freeing up adhesions, or remodeling of collagen,” he says. “However, research does not support these claims.” That doesn’t mean stretching and foam rolling aren’t good for your – Nicholas also discusses the benefits of these actions.

Full article at Professional PT

CEUs for Physical Therapists, Physical Therapist Assistants, and Occupational Therapists

Music appears to decrease delirium in critically ill patients

It is common for critically ill patients on life support to develop delirium, a form of acute brain failure for which no effective treatment is known. A study from Indiana University School of Medicine and Regenstrief Institute researchers reports that music appears to decrease delirium in patients on mechanical ventilators in the intensive care unit (ICU).

In the study, critically ill individuals who listened to slow-tempo, relaxing music (60 to 80 beats per minute) had decreased need for sedatives, fewer days of delirium and were more awake — enabling them to receive physical therapy earlier. These results are encouraging and a larger clinical trial is currently underway.

Mechanically ventilated patients — more than a million adults annually in the United States — are at increased risk for delirium, which is associated with prolonged ICU stays, higher healthcare costs and increased mortality. The intubated patient experiences pain, anxiety and physiologic stress for which they usually are treated with drugs, which can contribute to delirium. This perpetuates a cycle of pain, anxiety, sedation and delirium.

Full article at News Medical

CEUs for Physical Therapists, Physical Therapist Assistants, and Occupational Therapists

Advisory: PTs, Telehealth, and the Coronavirus

As the coronavirus continues to spread globally, members are asking about the possibility of reducing infection risk by conducting PT services through telehealth. There are important factors to consider, particularly related to telehealth services to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

Remember: Physical therapists are not statutorily authorized Medicare providers of telehealth, and physical therapy services delivered via telehealth are not payable under the physician fee schedule. Before you consider furnishing telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries and collecting out of pocket payment, contact your Medicare Administrative Contractor or CMS regional office to ask for an opinion.

Full article at APTA

CEUs for Physical Therapists, Physical Therapist Assistants, and Occupational Therapists

TRICARE Balks at Covering TENS and Dry Needling

The TRICARE Health program used throughout the U.S. Department of Defense health care system has disallowed transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation — TENS — as a reimbursable treatment for low back pain. And in another recent shift, the DoD agency that oversees TRICARE has decided that dry needling will not be covered if it’s the sole purpose for a visit.

The TENS decision was announced by the Defense Health Agency on February 26 and is effective June 1, 2020. In the notice of the change, the DoD says the TRICARE policy manual will now list TENS as an “unproven” treatment for low back pain and thus not eligible for coverage. Until now, TRICARE contractors were allowed to decide whether TENS was medically necessary for treatment of LBP.

According to a recent article in, DoD arrived at its decision after reviewing multiple studies that found weak evidence for the effectiveness of TENS for LBP, with a TRICARE official telling the site that the findings indicated that “TENS for lower back pain is no more effective than … placebo.”

Full article at APTA

CEUs for Physical Therapists, Physical Therapist Assistants, and Occupational Therapists

Newly developed mobile app helps reduce pain in osteoarthritis patients

By performing a few simple physical exercises daily, and receiving information about their disease regularly, 500 osteoarthritis patients were able to on average halve their pain in 6 months – and improve their physical function. The participants in the study from Lund University in Sweden used a newly developed mobile app to help them keep track.

“We expected patients to see an improvement, but these results exceeded our expectations. This demonstrates that using digital tools when treating chronic illnesses such as osteoarthritis can work very well”, says researcher and physiotherapist Håkan Nero at Lund University.

The study is published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, and is somewhat unique in that the researchers followed the patients over a longer time period, in some cases for up to a year.

Full article at News Medical

Continuing Education for Physical Therapists, Physical Therapist Assistants, and Occupational Therapists

Research suggests new approach to block tau pathology in FTLD, Alzheimer’s

The protein β-arrestin-2 increases the accumulation of neurotoxic tau tangles, a cause several forms of dementia, by interfering with removal of excess tau from the brain, a new study by the University of South Florida Health (USF Health) Morsani College of Medicine found.

The USF Health researchers discovered that a form of the protein comprised of multiple β-arrestin-2 molecules, known as oligomerized β-arrestin-2, disrupts the protective clearance process normally ridding cells of malformed proteins like disease-causing tau. Monomeric β-arrestin-2, the protein’s single-molecule form, does not impair this cellular toxic waste disposal process known as autophagy.

Full article at

CEUs for Physical Therapists, Physical Therapist Assistants, and Occupational Therapists

PTAs, Direct Access, Plans of Care, and More: APTA and Components Press for Changes

If CMS really wants to put “patients over paperwork” in physical therapy, it could start by allowing PTAs to provide maintenance care across settings and easing PTA supervision requirements. And while it’s at it, the agency could abandon outmoded approval requirements for plans of care, increase direct access to PTs, and expand PTs’ ability to bill for care provided by a qualified substitute when the primary PT is unavailable. Those are just a few of the options that APTA and two of its components put on the table in recent comment letters.

Ask and CMS shall receive
The most recent comment letters — from APTA, the APTA Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy, and the association’s Home Health Section — were produced in response to a call from CMS to provide recommendations about eliminating Medicare regulations that require more stringent supervision than is required in existing state scope of practice laws, or that limit health professionals from practicing at the top of their license. CMS also asked for input on ways to strengthen its “patients over paperwork” initiative intended to ease administrative burden on health care providers as it relates to the specific areas in regulation that restrict providers from practicing to the full extent of their education and training.

Full article at APTA

How Early Intervention Changed My Son’s Life

The doorbell rings at our apartment eight times each week, and my son knows it’s time to play with one of his friends. Patricia helps him learn to walk up the stairs. Lauren helps him use both hands to roll Play-Doh. Alaina helps him profess his love for macaroni and cheese.

We have an All-Star team of cheerful and experienced therapists dedicated to helping him navigate the world. It has already changed his life, and it didn’t cost us a penny.

This is Early Intervention, a national program created in 1986 to help children under age 3 who have developmental delays and disabilities. In New York State, where we live, the program serves nearly 70,000 children each year who have conditions like autism, Down syndrome and vision impairment. Some children, like my son, have a mild disability, and others have more serious challenges.

Full article at the New York Times