Background: Physical therapists provide care for many patients who are at risk or have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Currently, little information exists about what physical therapists know about osteoporosis, how they screen for the condition, and how they manage patients with osteoporosis.
Purpose: This study assessed knowledge and confidence of physical therapists in screening, examining, and planning interventions for persons diagnosed or at risk for osteoporosis.
Methods: A survey was mailed to 250 randomly selected members of the Illinois Physical Therapy Association. A follow-up mailing was sent to those who had not replied within 3 months. Survey items focused knowledge and confidence with screening and developing interventions for persons with osteoporosis. Response rate was 41% with a final sample of 83, 3 respondents meeting the inclusion criterion (working with women age 40-90).
Results: The majority of respondents were confident (35%) or somewhat confident (47%) in their ability to recognize risk factors for osteoporosis. The majority correctly identified female gender (68%), history of fracture (88%), and family history of osteoporosis (80%) as risk factors for osteoporosis, and identified changes in height (86%), and changes in posture (90%) as indicators for screening. Only 35% would often or always identify Asian American individuals as appropriate for screening for osteoporosis. Respondents appropriately prescribed log rolling for bed mobility (82%), rest in a supine position (45%), “hip hinge” as a method for sit to stand (48%), and wall slides (52%). Although more than 55% reported never prescribing high-risk exercises such as toe touches, abdominal machines, or abdominal crunches, 33% would prescribe high-risk exercises such as rest in a sitting position (37%) and a “nose over toes” method of sit-stand (36%).
Conclusion: It appears physical therapists correctly screen and identify some risk factors for osteoporosis; more education is needed in certain areas of screening and interventions for those with osteoporosis.