This study's purpose was to describe the vital sign assessment (VSA) practices of physical therapists (PTs) during evaluation and treatment of patients with neurologic conditions.
A survey was distributed to clinicians from a clinical site database and the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy's list serve. Respondents included US licensed PTs who treat patients with neurologic conditions.
Usable surveys included 133 US PTs with 69.2% doctorally prepared and 79.7% American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) members. Although 58.6% of survey respondents indicated that VSA is an essential part of the PT evaluation, at evaluation, only 37.6% and 39.1% of respondents always take heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP), and only 8.3% of respondents always take respiratory rate (RR). During treatment, only 14.3% of respondents report taking HR or BP at each session, while only 5.3% always take RR. Board certification was correlated with an increased frequency of HR assessment (P = .0027) and BP (P = 0.038) at evaluation, while importance of VSA strongly correlated with increased assessment of HR (P = 0.000), BP (P = 0.000), and RR (P = 0.003) at evaluation and with HR (P = 0.000) and BP (0.000) during treatment.
Although VSA by neurologic PTs is higher than other identified PT groups, it is still below-recommended assessment guidelines.