Author Q&A: Introduction to Physical Therapy, 6th Edition

Introduction to Physical Therapy, 6th Edition walks students through the key aspects of a career in physical therapy, including roles of the physical therapist and physical therapist assistant, practice settings, the APTA, and laws, policies, and regulations. Paired with an abundance of learning aides like learning objectives, chapter outlines, review questions, and more; this highly visual text gives students the complete foundation they need to successfully grow their professional knowledge and skills.

In this Q&A, author Michael A. Pagliarulo, PT, EdD, share his insights on what to expect in the new edition and what will be most important for future physical therapists to learn in their courses.

As an educator, how will this title be helpful to students pursuing a career in physical therapy?

As an introductory text to the profession and practice of physical therapy, students who use this as a learning tool should be able to understand the scope of the profession, and how it contributes to the physical health of society. Descriptions of the major of areas of practice provide an overview of how the physical therapist manages and provides care of common conditions seen by physical therapists and physical therapist assistants. The text serves as an adjunct to more advanced texts that describe skills in the delivery of services. 

How have you seen physical therapy change over the years?

The profession has changed dramatically over the last few decades in the three primary areas of the profession: practice, education, and research.  Direct access, whereby an individual can seek the services of a physical therapist without a referral, is now legal in all jurisdictions.  Diagnosis within the area of practice is now an expected part of management of services. Minimal requirements for education have moved from the certificate, to bachelors, master’s, and now doctoral degree. Extensive clinical research funded both internally and externally and conducted by physical therapists provides evidence to support techniques in practice.

What skills do you think will be most important for students to learn going into this field?

The most important skills for students to learn to enter this profession are how to seek evidence to support their practice or positions.  We never stop learning, so once we become complacent, we stagnate, and no longer provide proper services for the patient or client.  That is why the chapters are replete with references and additional resources to provide further information on the topics.

Why was it important to include a new chapter on prevention, health promotion, and wellness in physical therapy practice in this title?

In the past, the profession focused on improving the functional ability of individuals.  Society has become aware of the need to prevent disease and injury and maintain health and fitness. Physical therapists provide excellent services to create programs for individuals to maintain those conditions.  It is timely to add this content to the text as this is now a fundamental component of practice.

What advice would you give faculty teaching in this field?

In title and content, this text is introductory in nature, and serves to provide the student with an overview of the profession and practice of physical therapy.  In many cases, students are unaware of the entire scope of practice or common conditions seen in this profession.  Providing an understanding of this breadth assists students in identifying an area that they may not have considered previously.  The text also provides an overview of the profession in terms of history, evolution, and importance of the representative organization, American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).  The latter is important to recognize the need to support the APTA through membership and active participation to advocate for the health needs of society.