PTs and chiropractors are the same.

If you are a physical therapist, you probably are asking yourself, “Gee, Frank, if you really wanted to destroy your career in journalism, why didn’t you just hold a ‘Draw Mohammed Cartoon’ contest? I’m sure that’s the same question my boss is asking.

There is a point to this blasphemy. The point is that you can’t blaspheme without belief. If PTs didn’t have a bone-deep belief that they are different from chiropractors, the first sentence of this column would be forgettable. Whether PTs have a belief that there are significant differences between themselves and chiropractors is not the belief that matters most, however. What matters is whether healthcare consumers have a belief that there are significant differences between PTs and chiropractors.

Therein lies the rub. Physical therapy lacks brand recognition, which is the result of an ill-defined identity in the minds of potential clientele.

Unless a person has been referred to physical therapy by a physician, there is a very real possibility that person has no clue about the pain and dysfunction for which a physical therapist should be the preferred provider. Among many healthcare consumers who are, for example, looking for relief from garden-variety low back pain, “chiropractor” may be more top of mind than “physical therapist.” Still others may associate yoga, a massage therapist, or an acupuncturist with pain relief before the mental light bulb flashes “PT.” This ignorance persists despite winning the battle for direct access to physical therapy without prescription or physician referral in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and—that healthcare mega market—the US Virgin Islands.

How can this identity crisis be overcome? Jerry Durham, a physical therapy clinic owner based in San Francisco, has offered a simple tactic. Durham suggests physical therapists establish their value within their clinics, and within their own work space.

“Whether it’s your hands-on skill, or you give everybody a cup of coffee, or that you’re going to become a patient’s best friend, you have to decide what your value is,” Durham says in a video report posted to “Then blow that [message] up through a megaphone to everybody out there, that I am the physical therapist, and this is what I offer.

That message might sound more convincing coming from Durham instead of me, which raises a second point. Rehab Management’s home page,, offers video news briefs and podcasts loaded with commentary from experts who get in the face of hot-button issues that affect physical and occupational therapy. And it’s absolutely free.

Log on and take the opportunity to learn from industry leaders such as compliance expert Nancy Beckley, who explains why it is likely a potential whistleblower works in your clinic right now, and advises how to minimize the associated risks (search: “Business Success Tactics Highlighted at Empower Seminar in LA”). If you’re concerned about the financial future of physical therapy, watch revenue strategist Timothy Gendreau deadeye the camera and announce, “This industry has been a doormat.” Gendreau follows that gut punch with details about how to build a sustainable future for the profession (search: “PT Industry Has Been A Doormat, Speaker Tells Conference”).

You don’t have the time or budget to be in all the places where these conversations are taking place, so let bring those conversations to you. Use RM’s online media to stay informed and, as suggested during the podcast, Found Money: Revenue Recovery in Hospital Outpatient Dept, “Join us in the 21st century!”

Frank Long Editorial Director Rehab Management, Physical Therapy Products

Frank Long
Editorial Director
Rehab Management, Physical Therapy Products

I invite you to respond to this Editor’s Message: [email protected]