The body of knowledge in the health sciences continues to grow at an explosive rate. Every health care professional has a professional and ethical responsibility to make sure that they are staying current with the contemporary practice of their chosen field by integrating this new knowledge into their clinical practice. This is one of the reasons that there has been a big push in the past decade towards “evidence based practice” in health care. Physical therapy was one of the first health care professions to advocate evidence based practice at a national level—over 20 years ago.
Evidence based practice is simply, basing clinical decisions on available research evidence. Using the most up to date information improves outcomes and efficiency of care. We are able to help people recover from injuries and surgeries at a much faster rate than anyone thought possible 10 years ago. For example, 10 years ago, athletes that tore their ACL (major knee ligament) routinely needed 2 years to return to full sports participation—if they returned at all. Now, some athletes are returning within the same season.
For decades, physical therapists were taught that ultrasound, traction, TENS (electrical stimulation), and hot packs were effective interventions–even though there was very little or no evidence to support that. Now we know (through research) that those interventions have very limited effectiveness, and that there are much better methods for treating injuries. Those of us that follow research closely, stopped using interventions such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation 10-15 years ago. Unfortunately, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and hot packs are still commonly used therapeutic interventions across the country, despite the fact that they are, at best, mildly effective forms of treatment.
C.O.A.S.T. has been an evidence based practice since we opened in 1995. We know that to constantly incorporate new knowledge, we must continually change our treatment/techniques. For example, we incorporate more hip strengthening exercises now with knee (especially patellar-femoral) rehab programs due to studies that demonstrate a direct link between hip weakness and knee injuries. Basing our clinical decisions on available research allows us to progress patients as quickly and safely as possible.
Visit our website for more information about physical therapy and the specialized orthopedic rehabilitation programs COAST Physical Therapy Services has to offer.