Soon to be Academy of Pelvic Health Physical Therapy

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Giving Voices to Our Women’s Health Patients: Highlights from the APTA Federal Advocacy Forum  

Posted on: April 7th, 2017 by Aika Barzhaxynova No Comments


Federal Affairs Forum 2017By April Ritz, DPT

First, I want to give a huge shout-out to the Section on Women’s Health for sponsoring me to attend my first American Physical Therapy Association Federal Advocacy Forum in Washington, D.C., March 26-28, 2017.

Second, I’m giving special thanks to Gail Zitterkopf, SOWH federal affairs liaison, for taking me under your wing, showing me the city, and sharing your knowledge.

This was a memorable experience for me. We covered so many issues before heading to Capitol Hill to voice our opinions and to educate our elected officials on the following legislation:

  • The Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act (a.k.a., Therapy Cap Repeal, H.R. 807/ S. 253). The Therapy Cap currently limits Medicare patients to a total of $1,980 for speech and physical therapy services. While extensions can be added, this can delay care. The bill has failed to be implemented 16 times since 1997, and extensions have just been added, but the current extension ends December 31.
  • Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act (H.R. 1639/ S. 619). My Representative, John Shimkus is a co-sponsor of this important bill, which would add PTs to the pool of health professionals able to serve in shortage areas (National Health Service Corps). In my district of central Illinois alone, there are 43 health professional shortage areas. Being part of the NHSC also would qualify PTs to be part of the loan repayment program.
  • The Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act of 2017 (H.R. 302/ S. sister bill). This bill lets physicians, PTs, and athletic trainers travel with their professional or collegiate team across state borders and still practice. Passed by the House of Representatives, it is awaiting Senate approval.
  • SAFE Play Act. APTA is trying to standardize protocol for concussion management and return-to-play guidelines for youth athletes. Currently, without standards, most states have a wide variety of rules.
  • Lymphedema Treatment Act (H.R. 930). Lymphedema compression garments are not considered Durable Medical Equipment under Medicare, which limits patients’ recoveries and boosts medical costs due to complications from lymphedema.

I know it’s a lot of information, but it would be great if you would contact your state representatives or senators this week. Those of us on Capitol Hill met with or gave an APTA folder to every senator, representative, and/or legislative assistant. Please follow up with them and let them know that you care! They need to hear from their constituents.

Here’s a true story: A representative stopped supporting a PT bill solely because he had not heard from any of his PT constituents that year on the issue. You can use the templates online through the APTA website ( or download the PTaction app on your phone. Try to customize it, though, to reflect that you are their constituent and that you support what the APTA stopped in their office to discuss March 28.

I highly recommend attending the FAF or at least your state PT Day on the Hill! We need to realize that if we do not stand up for our profession, we will be in trouble down the road. If not for APTA and PT-PAC, our profession would not have locum tenens, the ability to practice dry needling and many PT-friendly laws and policies. We would be a lot worse off than we are now!

I know our profession is facing a lot of issues, but we need to remember the Section on Women’s Health, APTA, and PT-PAC are fighting for us. To have the greatest leverage, though, we need to donate to the political action committee. As an APTA member, our annual dues are not allowed to go to the PAC, so we need to make an additional contribution to them. I urge you to do so yearly.

If every APTA member gave $20 a year, we would have the largest health professional PAC. This would help us tremendously! Here is a link for you to donate and support our profession for the future: As a side note, you must be an APTA member to donate to the PAC (it’s the law).

Remember the words of Thomas Jefferson: “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”

AUTHOR: April Ritz, DPT, works in outpatient orthopedics and women’s health in Mattoon and Champaign, Ill., for Carle Foundation Hospital. She also works as needed in the acute inpatient setting for HSHS St. John’s in Springfield, Ill.







Student Flash Action Strategy Focuses on PT-PAC

Posted on: January 15th, 2017 by Aika Barzhaxynova No Comments

PTPAC_centered_jpeg-full(2)By Gail Zitterkopf, PT, DPT, CLT, CKTP

Each year the American Physical Therapy Association selects an item for the student flash action strategy (FAS). In 2016 this initiative was used as an opportunity to education students on the activities and goals of the Physical Therapy Political Action Committee (PT-PAC) and the importance of fundraising.

PT-PAC is the sole fundraising organization that provides access to and education of legislators to champion and influence PT legislative interests at the federal level.

The vision of PT-PAC is to become the number one PAC representing health professions in the United States and to provide the resources to create a network of congressional champions on physical therapy issues. That vision can be achieved if every APTA member donated just $20 annually to PT-PAC!

During the 2016 FAS, inspired APTA student members raised approximately $8,000 and engaged 250 student stars ($20 donors), as well as other donors.

Nearly 100 programs participated in the flash action strategy, and the top five schools were (1) University of Dayton, (2) West Coast University, (3) Texas Womens’ University, (4) Mount Saint Mary’s, and (5) South College. Congratulations!

Thank you to all of the students, programs, and professors who supported the 2016 FAS! Stay tuned for information later about the 2017 FAS focus.

The success of FAS is a great reminder to all Section on Women’s Health members, PT professionals, and students that–through your memberships in APTA and SOWH–your voices are being carried to legislators and policy makers on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures nationwide. At such a tumultuous time in health care, this member service is more important than ever.

Donations to PT-PAC are easy to make online at SOWH also will have donation envelopes and a PT-PAC representative who can answer questions at our upcoming 2017 Business Meeting at the Combined Sections Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, February 17 at 6:30 p.m.

Please note that funds for state PAC are earmarked for state legislative issues, while PT-PAC is earmarked for federal legislative issues that affect all 50 states and territories.

AUTHOR: Gail Zitterkopf, PT, DPT, CLT, CKTP, is 2017 chair of the SOWH Federal Affairs Committee.






Section on Women’s Health Offers Record Range of Education on Pelvic and Abdominal Physical Therapy at 2017 APTA Combined Sections Meeting

Posted on: November 10th, 2016 by Aika Barzhaxynova No Comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 10, 2016

CONTACTS: Christina Holladay, SOWH Director of Communications, [email protected]

Sandy Hilton, SOWH Director of Programming, [email protected]

Kristin Clarke, Executive Director, 571-344-5422, E[email protected]

Section on Women’s Health Offers Record Range of Education on Pelvic and Abdominal Physical Therapy at 2017 APTA Combined Sections Meeting

McLean, VA: The Section on Women’s Health has scheduled a record 26 education sessions, 1 research platform, and 1 research session with 26 posters during the 2017 Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association February 15-18 in San Antonio, Texas.

The conference is expected to draw more than 11,000 physical therapists in 18 specialties for networking, education, and business meetings.

In addition, SOWH is offering a two-day pre-conference session with internationally renowned movement and pain expert Professor Peter O’Sullivan. Professor O’Sullivan has an extensive body of evidence around the treatment of low back and pelvic pain, working closely with pelvic health physiotherapists in Perth, Australia.

SOWH is an education-focused professional association of nearly 3,000 physical therapy professionals and students focused on pelvic and abdominal health, as well as other men’s and women’s health issues.

“Please join us in San Antonio for a chance to see the breadth and depth of talent within the Section’s members and our colleagues,” says SOWH Director of Programming Sandy Hilton, PT, DPT, MS. “We are pleased to be bringing Professor Peter O’Sullivan and a variety of topics, including keeping people on their bikes, men in pelvic health, and the complexities of human sexuality.”

A full list of the 300 presentations scheduled for CSM 2017 can be viewed at

Registration for CSM has opened, and early-bird discounts run until November 3. To register, go to


The Section on Women’s Health-American Physical Therapy Association (SOWH) is a professional membership association of nearly 3,000 physical therapists treating patients across the life span and around the globe. Members provide the latest evidence-based physical therapy services to everyone, including LGBTQ populations, young athletes, childbearing women, peri-menopausal mothers, and men with pelvic health complications. In addition to providing top-quality continuing education, the Section provides networking opportunities, access to peer-reviewed research, inclusion in a PT Locator directory, and lab training. Learn more at






Ringing in 2017 with New Physical Therapy Evaluation and Re-evaluation Codes

Posted on: October 22nd, 2016 by Aika Barzhaxynova No Comments

Katie PringBy Katie Pring, MPT

Starting January 1, 2017, physical therapists will have three new evaluation codes and one new re-evaluation code. The new evaluation codes will replace the 97001, PT initial evaluation, and 97002, PT reevaluation codes.

In addition, the three new physical therapy evaluation codes are further divided into three levels of complexity: low, moderate, and high. Listed are the new evaluation codes for 2017:

  • 97161: Physical Therapy Evaluation–Low Complexity Evaluation
  • 97162: Physical Therapy Evaluation–Moderate Complexity Evaluation
  • 97163: Physical Therapy Evaluation–High Complexity Evaluation
  • 97164: Re-evaluation

The new initial evaluation codes are based on four components: patient history, examination, clinical presentation, and clinical decision making. Together, these four components of the evaluation determine which evaluation code to use.

The following charts can be used to help guide a therapist in determining the complexity of the evaluation. Please note when choosing the complexity of the evaluation, all components must be met and documented. If one of the four components is not met and documented, the therapist must default to a lower complexity evaluation code.

97161:  PT Evaluation Low Complexity Evaluation

Patient History Examination Clinical Presentation Clinical Decision Making
No documented comorbidities or personal factors that impact the plan of care. Documented 1-2 elements from any of the following:  body structures and functions, activity limitations, and/or participation restrictions Stable and/or uncomplicated characteristics Low complexity

97162:  PT Evaluation Moderate Complexity

Patient History Examination Clinical Presentation Clinical Decision Making
Documented 1-2 comorbidities and/or personal factors  that impact the plan of care Documented 3 or more elements from any of the following:  body structures and functions, activity limitations, and/or participation restrictions Evolving clinical presentation with changing characteristics Moderate complexity

97163: PT Evaluation High Complexity

Patient History Examination Clinical Presentation Clinical


Documented 3-4 comorbidities and/or personal factors  that impact the plan of care Documented 4 or more elements from any of the following:  body structures and functions, activity limitations, and/or participation restrictions Unstable and unpredictable characteristics High complexity

The new evaluation codes will be accepted by all insurances with the exception of workman compensation and/or auto insurance providers. It is recommended to follow-up with workman comp and auto insurance providers to see if they will be accepting the new evaluation codes.

At this time, all three initial evaluation codes will be reimbursed at the same fee scale. Reimbursement will not increase based on the complexity of the evaluation code. In 2017, CMS will study the utilization of the evaluation codes to determine if there different fees should apply for different evaluation codes.

In upcoming months, APTA will continue to educate physical therapists on the usage of the new evaluation codes. In addition, APTA is planning to have patient case scenarios that will allow therapists to review the case and practice determining which evaluation code to use. The Section on Women’s Health will have several patient examples on our reimbursement webpage in months to come.

Author: SOWH Reimbursement Committee member Katie Pring, MPT, works in the outpatient orthopedic practice of Mendelson Kornblum Orthopedics in Warren, Mich. The women’s health program she developed there includes treatment of lymphedema, pregnancy and postpartum care, and pelvic floor therapy.






Alternative Payment Models: Not just an “Ortho Thing”

Posted on: May 31st, 2016 by Aika Barzhaxynova No Comments

By NaKisha Jackson, PT, DPT

The new craze is all about “alternative payment models” (APM). In January 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a plan to move aggressively on its goal to transition 30% of

NaKisha Jackson shares an update on PT reimbursement actions.

NaKisha Jackson shares an update on PT reimbursement actions.

traditional fee-for-service Medicare payments to APMs such as the Comprehensive Care Joint Replacement (CJR) program by the end of 2016, and 50% by the end of 2018.

HHS noted it has reached the 30% goal ahead of schedule and will move toward the next milestone.1 The concept seems instinctive for the move toward the “fee-for-outcomes” model that no one could argue is unreasonable. As physical therapists we are a very intricate detail in the overall picture of these clients’ recoveries. However, according to the American Physical Therapy Association, physical therapists are not as strongly considered in this model as we should be in comparison to our impact on those outcomes.

At first glance this may appear to be an “ortho thing.” In our Section, we could assume that this may not have as drastic of an effect on us as it does our other colleagues, whose caseloads are inundated with clients pre- and post-joint replacement surgery.

While orthopaedic surgeries may be on the forefront of this experiment, does it not seem fathomable that other specialties may be on a short list of the HHS? The first two suspects that come to mind are the ever so popular bladder and urethral suspension/sling procedures for incontinence and hysterectomies for complaints of pelvic pain.  How many of these have you seen with poor outcomes and thought to yourself, “I could have helped prior to surgery, and she may have had a better recovery?”

Complications vary from mesh erosion and worsening urgency to increased pain and a host of other issues. What about the other very common and easily justifiable radical prostatectomy? With quality of life being a major outcome focus of most insurers, stress incontinence that was unresolved or not even addressed may also be a red flag for scoring the success level of this surgery.

While our specialty is flying under the radar, this is the perfect time to make sure you are crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s. If this comes down the pike, as all things usually do, to begin to incorporate all major surgical areas that cost insurers and beneficiaries enormous amounts of money, we need to be ready to stake our claim as major players in these outcomes.

Have your personal therapy outcomes ready and in a readable format, so when surgeons and general physicians need convincing that you are the missing piece to the puzzle, you have your ammunition. Use your results as marketing tools, not only to physicians, but to clients and their families and friends as well.

This is especially necessary for those therapists striving for a cash-based practice. What better way to ask clients to forego their insurance and pay you cold hard cash up-front, with no tangible evidence that you know what you are doing?

We are in a prime situation to be proactive and able to advocate for ourselves in a system that continues to underestimate the undeniable benefits of physical therapy to clients and insurers in the form of quality of care and cost control.


  1. APTA Statement on Transition to Alternative Payment Models (Including CJR). 04/16/2016

Author: NaKisha Jackson, PT, DPT, practices in Arlington, Texas, in an outpatient setting solely devoted to enhancing the pelvic health of men and women. She can be reached at [email protected].







Scholarships and Peer Recruitment Help Attract Minorities into the Physical Therapy Profession

Posted on: May 23rd, 2016 by Aika Barzhaxynova No Comments

By Kimmi Edwards, DPT

2016 APTA Minority Scholarship winner Kimmi Edwards, DPT, calls for expanded support of minority PT students to diversify the profession.

2016 APTA Minority Scholarship winner Kimmi Edwards, DPT, calls for expanded support of minority PT students to diversify the profession.

Do you have strong feelings about whether minorities are well represented or recruited into the physical therapy (PT) profession?

Physical therapy began as a predominantly woman-dominated profession. Now men are entering at a faster rate than other minority populations in our midst.

However, this historically predominantly white profession has seen only a minute increase of minorities now accepting this profession as a career path.

“Why?” I wondered. When you go into a black society and ask the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  The answer is often a lawyer, engineer, doctor, or professional athlete.

Rarely do you hear “an occupational therapist,” “a physical therapist,” or even “a speech therapist.”  Society at large is still uneducated about our profession or has any idea how successful, rewarding, and happy our careers are!

Do we as professionals and future professionals do a great job of reaching out to communities and advocating for this profession? What makes these boys and girls want to become a lawyer, doctor, or professional athlete? Is it because they don’t know the PT profession exists?

Possibly. There is certainly a huge gap in student applicants for physical therapy programs when it comes to minorities, which led to my decision to survey Alabama PT schools about minority attendance. I am not from Alabama, but I recently graduated with my Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) from Alabama State University.

As of May 10, 2016, there are four DPT schools in Alabama with 404 physical therapy students, 56 being minorities (13.86%). Taking these numbers into consideration, I question whether other states have similar statistics? What can be done to improve them? More importantly, what can I do about that change?

Thankfully, the profession does offer some opportunities such as American Physical Therapy Association Minority Scholarships that support the success of minorities. Scholarships of this nature can help not only attract future diverse PT students into our field for the extensive good we do for our patients, but also communicate that physical therapy has a welcoming professional culture for minorities.

Current minority PTs, in particular, should continue their tremendous encouragement and recruitment of other minorities. If boys and girls in underserved communities can see and hear firsthand about our profession and its success from minorities they can identify with, more progress can be made toward attracting them to PT career options.

I want to make minority scholarships better known to students by referring them to learn the latest on APTA’s Honors and Awards web section. Students can submit applications or be nominated—as can professors–every September, but PT and physical therapy assistant students must in their final year of PT education.

In 2016, eight PT students and four PTAs students in the United States won scholarships supported by the Minority Scholarship Fund, to which the Section on Women’s Health-APTA recently donated $500. Anyone else interested in donating to the Minority Scholarship Award may contact Johnette Meadows, [email protected].

Together, we all can change the physical therapy profession, particularly in men’s and women’s health, to better reflect the diversity of the patients we serve.

Author: Kimmi Edwards, DPT, is a 2016 APTA Minority Scholarship winner and Section member. She can be reached at 

[email protected]. Note: The statistics above apply only to PT, not PTA, programs in Alabama state universities.



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