News Column

Boomers Boost Physical Therapy Field

August 11, 2014

Gayle Perez, The Pueblo Chieftain

Aug. 10--The aging baby boomer population is expected to keep physical therapists in a job at least through the next couple decades.

The primary job of a physical therapistn is to assist patients with recovery after an illness or injury.

With more boomers (those individuals born between 1946 and 1964) moving into the age of needing hip and knee replacements as well as the prime age for heart attacks and strokes, the demand for physical therapists is predicted to increase.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of physical therapy is projected to grow by 36 percent by 2022, amounting to approximately 73,500 new jobs.

The boom is already being felt locally, according to several local therapists.

Chad Clark, a physical therapist at PT Connections, said he's noticed an increase in clients in the 49-67 age group particularly in the past two to three years.

"The top reasons for coming to see us are knee, hip and shoulder replacements," Clark said.

He said others are treated for chronic injuries from prior injuries or surgeries that remain chronic.

Dr. Jaymie Ownbey, a physical therapist at Southern Colorado Clinic, said she, too, has noticed an influx of patients in the 50-60 age group.

"As medical advances continue to occur in letting people live longer, we do anticipate we will see a lot more older individuals in the future," Ownbey said.

While providing treatment to the ailing baby boomers is a big part of the business, there's also been an increase in preventative education in the protection from injuries and falls.

"We are seeing many of the baby boomer types because they are aware that if they don't do something proactive now to help themselves, they could be worse for the wear later in life," Clark said.

Although baby boomers provide a different patient base, treatments provided to the population are no different than for any other age group, therapists said.

Clark and Ownbey said all treatments are geared toward the individual and their specific need.

Clark said among the therapies he provides are corrective exercises, manual therapy (massage), cold laser and education on pain resolution, prevention of injuries and how to optimize performance in daily activities.

Ownbey added there are always new treatment options available to the everchanging field of physical therapy but said the best tool is still a therapist's hands.

"No matter whether its a newborn or someone who is 99, the biggest tool physical therapy has is our hands. That will never change in this field."


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Original headline: Boomers boost physical therapy field

Source: (c)2014 The Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, Colo.)

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