In this world of intense marketing and endless choices, people are always attempting to re-brand, or even un-brand themselves. Looking online for a church a few years ago, I found that many appeared at first to be non-denominational, but were in fact, part of a mainstream denomination. For reasons known only to them, they had dropped the denomination from their name, or buried it under the “What We Believe” page. The same is becoming more and more true of health care providers and products.
What is Physical Therapy?
Well, there are a common set of treatments that are generally put under that classification, however, the actual term “Physical Therapy” or “Physical Therapist” legally refer to a professional designation with a specific set of qualifications, duties, and responsibilities.
Why would you trust your health to someone suffering from an identity crisis?
Although PTs treat a wide variety of problems in a wide array of settings, and with more than one type of degree, I have never seen a PT attempting to pass himself off, or confuse himself with another practitioner. For example, a PT with a Doctoral Degree will commonly introduce himself “Hello, I’m Dr. Jones, your physical therapist” rather than “Hello, I’m Dr. Jones.”
The practice of medicine also refers to a common set of treatments and practices – diagnosis, education, interventions, medications etc – but also has a legal description. No one in Texas can practice medicine except those who have a medical degree – M.D. or D.O. – along with a valid license to practice medicine. One may not advertise that he practices medicine without the degree and professional license, and (I would think) one may not operate a medical clinic without the same qualifications.
These are chemicals that can be ingested or used to treat illness or disease, so long as the chemical product has been found to be safe and effective for use for the illness or disease, and certified so by the FDA.
Blurring the Line…to Get More “Turf”
If I can convince you that my supplement is something you can use to treat an illness or disease, then you may assume that the product has been tested and found to be safe and effective for that treatment. If I can convince you that I operate a Sports Medicine clinic, then you may assume that I have the ability to diagnose and treat as a physician. If I can convince you that I perform physical therapy, you may assume that I’ve been trained and licensed as a physical therapist.
While there is overlapping “turf” between practitioners, your health care provider should be honest and upfront.
If someone is trying to say he provides physical therapy without actually saying “Physical Therapy” or saying it in the office, but you notice it’s not in print anywhere, I would not trust that practitioner. If someone says “I’m Dr. Jones” and operates a “Sports Medicine Clinic” and recommends that you take some pills he has in stock to treat your problem, but never bothers to clarify that he does not practice medicine, is not a physician, and is only offering to sell you supplements rather than prescribing a medication, I would not trust that practitioner.
When Have I Crossed the Line?
If I say that I have diagnosed someone with a problem, I have (according to Texas Law) engaged in the practice of medicine, and I had better be a licensed physician. If say that the signs and symptoms that I find are consistent with a diagnosis, or I simply describe my findings and leave it at that, I am not practicing medicine.
If I give you a product and tell you that it treats or cures your problem, I have given you a pharmaceutical and that statement had better be cleared by the FDA. If I give you a product and say that some have reported improvement in their condition while using that product, but that the statement is not intended to treat a disease or illness, then I have given you a supplement.
If I say that I’m providing physical therapy, then I must be a physical therapist. If I say I provide soft tissue therapy, or rehab therapy, or foot therapy, or “Airrosti” therapy, or any other number of things which are either not defined or at least not legally defined, then I could be anyone off the street.
If I say that I’m providing a spinal adjustment, I must be a chiropractor. If I say that I’m going to provide a spinal manipulation, then I could be any number of providers.
Insist on Honesty and Transparency
On the other hand, if someone says “I’m Dr. Jones, a physical therapist, and I’m going to perform spinal manipulation to treat your back pain. This isn’t a chiropractic adjustment, and does not actually “re-align” your spine, but scientific evidence has shown that in situations like yours, it can relieve your pain and speed your recovery,” I would feel comfortable that practitioner has put all of the marketing and hype aside, to provide you the best and most transparent care possible.