LRMC hosts health fair, open house next week

by Joe Swinfen
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Physical Therapy

Are you at risk for a musculoskeletal injury? Are you eating healthy meals? Would you like to learn more about what occupational therapy can do for you? All of these questions can be answered at an upcoming health fair scheduled to take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday in Heaton Auditorium at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

The health fair is supported by physical therapy, occupational therapy, nutrition care, preventive medicine and the USO. Health care providers from each section will be available to answer questions in regards to fitness, injury prevention, wellness and much more.

Interested in more? In support of National Physical Therapy Month, the LRMC Physical Therapy Department will host an open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday in Ward 12A at LRMC.

The first 20 through the door will be placed in a raffle drawing for a chance to win exercise equipment. Running analysis and education will be performed at the clinic. Therapists will also be there to provide exercise and injury prevention advice and screening. Free cake and beverages will also be offered.

LRMC physical therapists come from a long and interesting past. Physical therapists formed their first professional association in 1921 with the American Women’s Physical Therapeutic Association consisting of 274 charter members.

Army physical therapy began in 1928 at Walter Reed with a course for civilians. The program was restarted in 1948 when the trainees were commissioned as second lieutenants during their schooling. Male therapists were accepted into the corps in 1955, according to the American Physical Therapy Association.

Prior to the early 1970s, physical therapists worked in a prescriptive environment during peace time. Then, once again, a major change occurred. After the Vietnam War, the Army had too few orthopedic surgeons to manage huge troop populations with neuromusculoskeletal problems. Based on their performance record, and on the way they had met the expanded scope of practice required in Korea and Vietnam, physical therapists were identified as “physician extenders,” credentialed to evaluate and treat neuromusculoskeletal patients without physician referral.

Army physical therapists have been functioning in a direct access setting since that time. Students are usually commissioned in the Army Medical Specialist Corps, Navy Medical Service Corps, the Air Force Biomedical Sciences Corps, or the Public Health Service at the rank of second lieutenant or ensign.

In 1997 a physical therapist was placed in the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. As a result, a study determined the 2/75th was more deployable than two similar battalions. The evidence was enough for the 75th Ranger Regiment to give up three weapons platoon leader positions so that each battalion could have an assigned physical therapist. One Ranger battalion commander commented that the physical therapist in his battalion was the “most valuable player” in ensuring his unit’s combat physical readiness.

Today, physical therapists not only guide and treat patients. They also consult other providers on Soldier and unit readiness by enhancing functional and human performance, serving as command consultants in areas of injury prevention, surveillance, physical fitness, readiness and health promotion.