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The Role of the Physical Therapist in Diet and Nutrition

Megan Pribyl, MSPT is the author and instructor for Nutrition Perspectives for the Pelvic Rehab Therapist. Megan is passionate about nutritional science and manual therapy. Megan holds a dual-degree in Nutrition and Exercise Sciences (B.S. Foods & Nutrition, B.S. Kinesiology) from Kansas State University, and has actively sought to fill in missing links between orthopedics and nutrition.

APTA Landmark Motion Passes
RC 12-15: The Role of the Physical Therapist in Diet and Nutrition
Is nutrition within our scope of practice? As the instructor for “Nutrition Perspectives for the Pelvic Rehab Therapist” offered through Herman & Wallace, I hear this question frequently! To me, the answer has always been a clear “yes*!”; now the APTA is endorsing this view. It’s an exciting time to be a rehab professional, especially for those looking to broaden clinical perspectives and scope of services to include basic nutrition and lifestyle information.

At the APTA House of Delegates in early June 2015, a landmark motion passed - RC 12-15: The Role of the Physical Therapist in Diet and Nutrition. As our profession advances towards a more integrative model, this motion symbolizes an acknowledgement of the rehab professional’s broader role as a health care provider. We, as physical therapists, are uniquely positioned to offer patients more comprehensive lifestyle-related education including discussion of nutrition. Both the World Health Organization (WHO, 2008) and the Physical Therapy Summit on Global Health (Dean, et.al, 2014) have called upon all health care providers to stand in unity to help the public with epidemics of lifestyle-related diseases; the APTA has given it’s nod of approval as well.

The motion states: “as diet and nutrition are key components of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention of many conditions managed by physical therapists, it is the role of the physical therapist to evaluate for and provide information on diet and nutritional issues to patient, clients, and the community within the scope of physical therapist practice. This includes appropriate referrals to nutrition and dietary medical professionals when the required advice and education lie outside the education level of the physical therapist*.” Further, “this motion clearly incorporates the intent of the new Vision Statement for the Physical Therapy Profession by transforming society and improving the human experience.” (APTA, 2015)

This powerful development provides us with both challenge and opportunity. How can we, as pelvic rehab professionals, be armed with the most cutting edge nutritional information available? What nutrition information lies within our scope of practice? How can we apply this information to our pelvic rehab patient population? For the answer to these pressing questions and much more, plan now to attend Nutrition Perspectives for the Pelvic Rehab Therapist” March 5 & 6, 2016 in Kansas City, MO. It is my passion to share this information and I welcome you to join me for this timely CEU opportunity. It is designed to help you obtain the skills needed to confidently identify nutritional correlates in pelvic rehabilitation.


References:

ATPA (2015) http://www.apta.org/uploadedFiles/2015PacketI.pdf

Dean, E., de Andrade, A. D., O'Donoghue, G., Skinner, M., Umereh, G., Beenen, P., . . . Wong, W. P. (2014). The Second Physical Therapy Summit on Global Health: developing an action plan to promote health in daily practice and reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases. Physiother Theory Pract, 30(4), 261-275. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24252072)

World Health Organization. (2008). 2008-2013 Action plan for the global strategy for the prevention and control of non communicable diseases. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO. (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/noncommunicable-diseases/en/)

photo credit: Walmart’s locally grown produce via photopin (license)

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