PTA department guest blog

By Bay State College on September 28, 2015

Below, Chris Joyce, PT, DPT, SCS, CSCS (Assistant Professor, Physical Therapist Assistant Program) remarks on the importance of PT in preventative medicine and pain management, and discusses how Bay State College is incorporating a growing emphasis on patient empowerment and exercise into its PTA curriculum. 

The landscape of healthcare is rapidly evolving with greater emphasis being placed on efficiency and patient-centered outcomes. With staggering costs upwards of 560 billion dollars1 pain has become an economic burden on the United States healthcare system and has necessitated strong research and practical focus. Fortunately, concurrent to the growth of financial strain, is the growth of literature that supports physical therapy (PT) as a safe, low cost, effective intervention for those in pain2.  Common surgical interventions, for example, meniscal repair, have been shown to be equally effective, yet significantly more expensive, than PT3. A recent study found outcomes for knee arthroscopy are inconsequential, yet costly4. It is becoming evident that the role for conservative care is expanding and the PT/A is positioned to step right in.

In line with the American Physical Therapy Association’s “Move Forward”5 campaign, the Bay State College PTA program has strengthened its emphasis on patient empowerment and exercise. Recognizing the massive economical savings of preventative medicine, physical therapists and physical therapist assistants have an unparalleled opportunity to become first line providers for patients with pain and disability. It has become almost universally accepted that movement is paramount to vitality, yet preventative diseases are rampant in our society, clearly illustrating lack of patient education and motivation. Thus, patient-centered approaches that encourage active learning and lifestyle are instructed regardless of discipline.  Ultimately, academic institutions share in the responsibility of promoting societal health and in our PTA program we welcome the challenge to continue to incorporate evidence-based approaches to patient education6 and exercise across the continuum of our curriculum.



1) Gaskin DJ, Richard P. The Economic Costs of Pain in the United States. In: Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Advancing Pain Research, Care, and Education. Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011. Appendix C. Available from:


3) J. N. Katz et. al. Surgery versus Physical Therapy for a Meniscal Tear and Osteoarthritis. The New England Journal of Medicine.  368:1675. May 2, 2013

4) J B Thorlund, C B Juhl, E M Roos, LS Lohmander. Arthroscopic surgery for degenerative knee: systematic review and meta-analysis of benefits and harms. Br J Sports Med 2015;49:19 1229-1235 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-h2747rep


6) Louw A , Diener I , Landers MR , Puentedura EJ . Preoperative pain neuroscience education for lumbar radiculopathy: a multicenter randomized controlled trial with 1-year follow-up. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2014;39(18):1449–57