October is National Physical Therapy month! To celebrate and to enhance the quality and access to care for its active duty members, the 412th Medical Group Physical Therapy Clinic has instituted several new innovations.
First and foremost among these is Direct Access. Active duty patients can now schedule an evaluation for most musculoskeletal conditions directly with the physical therapist without a referral from their primary care manager. Direct Access offers two main advantages for the patient. First, the time between injury and treatment is decreased, allowing for a quicker recovery, less pain and reduced lost work time. Second, PCM appointment availability should improve.
“Previously, patients would be required to see their PCM for any musculoskeletal complaint before they could be referred to Physical Therapy for further evaluation and treatment,” said Maj. William Clarkson, 412th Medical Operations Squadron, Physical Therapy flight commander. “Direct Access eliminates this step and directs the patient to the physical therapist who is highly qualified to evaluate musculoskeletal conditions, order appropriate tests and refer to other specialists as needed.”
As the Air Force leads the way in technological advancement, the Physical Therapy Clinic has followed this lead with some innovative additions. The clinic recently launched a new wireless laptop documentation system that has greatly enhanced quality of care. This system allows providers to remain with the patient throughout the treatment process, significantly improving patient-provider interaction. The clinic is also finalizing a “tablet” style patient education system.
ìThis system will allow the technician to review video clips of each exercise with a patient who prefers a more visual learning style,” according to Clarkson.
The tablet system will also be capable of performing real-time video of the patient as they perform each exercise and allows for improved feedback.
Finally, the clinic staff will provide advanced video gait analysis for more complex running injuries.
These technological modernizations and the direct access system represent a continuous commitment by the 412th Medical Group to provide the best care for its patients while optimizing patient-centered operations.
Clarkson is the sole physical therapist for the 412th MDOS. He received his Masters in Physical Therapy from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and recently completed his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the Texas Tech University Health Science Center. Over the past 12 years, he has specialized in orthopedics and is one of the only physical therapists in the Antelope Valley to be recognized as a Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopedic Physical Therapy.
Active duty members seeking evaluation and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries are encouraged to call the appointment line at (661) 277-7118, follow the Physical Therapy prompts to speak to a clerk, and determine if they meet the criteria for direct access to Physical Therapy.