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VA » Health Care » Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services » Physical Therapy for U.S. Veterans
Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services
Physical Therapy for U.S. Veterans
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides Physical Therapy services to Veterans and Servicemembers. Physical Therapists (PTs) are health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages with medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. PTs are further supported by Physical Therapist Assistants who are able to provide treatment based on a PT plan of care.
Veteran Health Administration (VHA) Physical therapy provides state-of-the-art and evidence-based care to Veterans and Services members. Physical therapists examine each individual and develop a treatment plan. Evidence-based services are used to decrease disability, reduce pain, improve function and independence, prevent illness, promote wellness and restore quality of life to the Veterans and Servicemembers they serve. Physical Therapist Assistants (PTA) are able to carry out a physical therapy plan of care and provide treatment to Veterans and Servicemembers undergoing physical therapy.
PTs and PTAs practice across the continuum of care, providing services in inpatient settings (including medical centers and community living centers), home health, outpatient clinics, and tele-rehabilitation.
Physical Therapists are also key members of collaborative teams, which exist in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) systems of care models (ie. Polytrauma, Spinal Cord Injury Pain Management and Amputee systems of care).
Services may include:
- Primary Care
- Emergency Department Care
- Pain Management
- Manual Intervention and Joint Mobilization
- Treatment of Musculoskeletal Disorders
- Strength and Conditioning/Therapeutic Exercise
- Treatment of Neurological Diseases and Stroke Recovery
- Balance Training/Fall Prevention
- Vestibular Rehabilitation
- Injury Prevention
- Weight Management Program for Veterans (MOVE!)
- Safe Patient Handling
- Wound Care
- Women’s Health
- Adaptive mobility clinics
- VHA is one of the single largest employers of Physical Therapists, employing more than 2,300 Physical Therapists, and an additional 530 Physical Therapy Assistants.
- In 2019, Physical Therapists treated over 761,430 unique patients within VA, accounting for approximately 2.8 million total encounters.
- VA’s commitment to education resulted in establishment of physical therapy residency programs. These are located at:
- Ann Arbor
- Salt Lake City
- Washington D.C.
- Palo Alto
- St. Louis, Denver
- Mountain Home, TN
- Madison, WI
- Los Angeles
- and Milwaukee VA Medical Centers.
- VA has the largest PT residency program in the country (public or private) and is scheduled to graduate 42 residents in academic year 2021.
- Further, the VA Office of Academic Affiliations is supporting > 700 pre-professional Physical Therapy students with and without stipends during their clinical training.
EducationPhysical therapists are licensed health care professionals. Qualification for licensure includes passing the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE), administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Another important qualification for licensure is graduation from a physical therapy education program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) or a program that is deemed substantially equivalent to a CAPTE-accredited program.2
PTAs are also graduates of CAPTE accredited programs.