To the editor:
I share Dee Boeck’s overall concern regarding a necessity for living a healthier life (“Healthy lifestyles”) and that our current health care model underemphasizes the long-term benefits of preventative care through more physical activity. I disagree, however, with Ms. Boeck’s point that having another PT clinic is an unwise use of health care dollars, and that it enables “people to neglect physical activity in the belief that replacement knees and hips will be readily available to them.”
Neither the orthopedic surgical procedures nor the subsequent physical therapy that’s vital to returning patients back to full function and wellness should be considered obstacles to enhancing preventative medicine. Some patients undergoing joint replacement surgery become sedentary as a result of the pain and lack of mobility they experience, and only after the procedure and treatment can they return to a more active lifestyle. Furthermore, one of my primary objectives as a physical therapist is to promote wellness through physical activity so my patients can help prevent any possible future injuries themselves.
It’s true that an increase in physical activity for many individuals throughout their lives may have helped delay or even prevent a joint replacement. However that is definitely not always the case for others. Many patients must also contend with other factors such as family genetics, congenital malformations, autoimmune diseases, infections and trauma. In such cases, increased physical activity alone cannot prevent joint replacement surgeries. Physical therapy is part of the solution to preventative care, not the problem.