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Recognizing physical therapists and physical therapy assistants as crucial members of the health care team, especially during COVID-19

by Lt. Cmdr. Kayla Dewitt, Lead Physical Therapist, Empowered Living Clinic, Chickasaw Nation Department of Health

National Physical Therapy Month is a time to recognize how physical therapists and physical therapist assistants help improve lives across the country. The 2021 theme – “Choose more movement. Choose better health. Choose physical therapy Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving . ” – highlights the importance of physical activity and the role PTs and PTAs have in helping people get moving. During the pandemic, PTs and PTAs play an essential role as they contribute to preventing and rehabilitating impairments caused by COVID-19. Getting people to move is more important than ever because, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving , more than 80% of adults and adolescents do not get enough physical activity.

PTs and PTAs serve a major role in primary, secondary and tertiary care, and in the prevention and promotion of health, wellness and fitness across all age groups. Patients within Indian Country continue to benefit from physical therapy standard evaluations and treatments, including utilizing developmentally appropriate play and encouraging home routines for sleep and wake times for younger hospitalized patients. After an evaluation, physical therapists determine the duration, intensity, and frequency of physical activity to help improve overall health and mobility, including video calls with family members when able.

The Delta variant is the most contagious COVID-19 variant yet, causing an increased number of outbreaks in pediatric populations ineligible for vaccinations. While COVID-19 continues to have a significant impact on tribal communities, physical therapists are there to help patients improve strength, stamina, and quality of life through prescribed movement. Movement is essential to recovery, and physical therapists partner with patients to achieve their physical activity goals and improve their overall quality of life. Working with a physical therapist to implement a progressive therapeutic activity plan that includes low-intensity stretches to improve range of motion and strength and balance training will significantly improve recovery.

PTs and PTAs on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic response continue to be crucial members of the health care team, providing care in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities. Meanwhile, PTs and PTAs who work in local clinics and other community-based settings ensure that essential care to individuals not affected by COVID-19 is not disrupted. October is an important month to reflect and remember that maintaining and advancing mobility, strength, activity, and endurance have positive effects on health and function at all times.

Make sure to take care of yourself today and make October your healthiest month yet!

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Lt. Cmdr. Kayla Dewitt, Lead Physical Therapist, Empowered Living Clinic, Chickasaw Nation Department of Health

Lt. Cmdr. Kayla Dewitt, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, is the lead physical therapist for the Empowered Living Clinic, Chickasaw Nation Department of Health. She is a certified fall prevention specialist and a therapeutic pain specialist. Lt. Cmdr. Dewitt was recognized as Junior Officer of the Year by the American Indian/Alaska Native Commissioned Officer Advisory Committee in 2020.