Clinician perception of the impact of deployed physical therapists as physician extenders in a combat environment.
Physical therapists (PTs) serve as physician extenders performing direct access evaluations for musculoskeletal conditions. The previous war-time mission of PTs was limited to level III medical care. Recently PTs began providing care at levels I/II with brigade combat teams (BCTs).Determine the sentiment of battlefield providers at levels I/II regarding the operational impact of PTs.Surveys were provided to BCT medical providers.There were 107 responses (response rate of 51%). According to the responses, PTs made a significant impact on overall mission accomplishment (97%) and patient prognosis (83%) and were considered local experts in musculoskeletal pathology (92%), including the ordering of radiographs (79%). Their presence was thought to significantly decrease medical evacuations within theater (68%) and out of theater (73%).There was a positive sentiment toward PTs in the BCT, suggesting they are highly valued. Future studies need to clarify further operational, medical, and fiscal implications.
Rhon, DI; Gill, N; Teyhen, D; Scherer, M; Goffar, S
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