Physical therapy in the emergency department: A new opportunity for collaborative care

Howard S. Kim, Kyle J. Strickland, Katie A. Mullen, Michael T Lebec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Emergency department-initiated physical therapy (ED PT) is an emerging resource in the United States, with the number of ED PT programs in the United States growing rapidly over the last decade. In this collaborative model of care, physical therapists are consulted by the treating ED physician to assist in the evaluation and treatment of a number of movement and functional disorders, such as low back pain, peripheral vertigo, and various gait disturbances. Patients receiving ED PT benefit from the physical therapist's expertise in musculoskeletal and vestibular conditions and from the individualized attention provided in a typical bedside evaluation and treatment session, which includes education on expected symptom trajectory, recommendations for activity modulation, and facilitated outpatient follow-up. Early data suggest that both physicians and patients view ED PT services favorably, and that ED PT is associated with improvement of several important clinical and operational outcomes. Hospital systems interested in building their own ED PT program may benefit from the key steps outlined in this review, as well as a summary of the typical clinical volumes and practice patterns encountered at existing programs around the country.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

Keywords

  • Musculoskeletal
  • Older adults
  • Physical therapy
  • Vestibular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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