Have you heard of preventative treatment? If not, welcome to the twentyfirst century and beyond. And while preventative treatment may sound like an oxymoron to some, it's becoming more and more popular, particularly when it comes to your musculoskeletal health.
The idea of prevention has been in the medical field for a long time. Thomas Edison touted "prevention" as what the doctors of the future would do. How many of us go see our family doctor or primary care physician for an annual checkup, get a flu shot, or get their teeth cleaned by their dentist. That would all be considered preventative medicine.
When it comes to our physical health, and I mean physical as in musculoskeletal, prevention has not been very popular until recently. I believe that the major reasons behind this rise in popularity are economic as well as increased awareness.
With health care costs increasing and the responsibility of those costs shifting onto the individual, we as health care consumers are starting to learn to be better health care shoppers.
For instance, if I have a three thousand dollar deductible and I hurt my knee I may be much more concerned with the treatment options and costs than I was when my insurance footed the entire bill. In this case, perhaps surgery is recommended - there goes my deductible from out of my pocket. However, what if a course of physical therapy gave me a good chance of avoiding surgery. That cost would be a fraction of the surgery cost. People are now shopping for low cost vs high cost options for treatment, and taken a step further, are also realizing that prevention is eaven cheaper than low cost treatment options.
How about someone with a chronic condition, like arthritis, or general low back pain. This individual may see several different specialists throughout the year to help treat the condition every time that it flares up. We also know through published research that people with an injury are more likely to get a re-ocurrance of that injury as compared to someone that never had that particular injury. Chronic conditions or re-injuries (what we call "repeat offenders) can prove to be a major financial burden.
What if seeing a specialist like a physical therapist once a month or once every other month - while you are healthy or asymptomatic - could reduce the likelihood of that chronic condition or re-injury from coming back as frequently or as severe. Not only would you feel better but your wallet would too.
In my office, we created a "wellness" program that aims to stop the trend of chronic treatment by implementing preventative treatment once a course of physical therapy has been completed. The concept is to stay healthy so that you don't have to get healthy. It's much cheaper to do it that way. People are now starting to understand this, especially now that their own finances are directly involved.
This is not a new concept but I think our own health (unfortunately) was never enough of a motivating factor for people to join a wellness program. I think we are finding out now that people's finances are definitely motivating enough for people to jump onto the wellness concept. It's just much more cost effective.
Comments and questions encouraged - I hope everyone is safe, warm, and dry after the terrible devestation of Superstorm Sandy.
Yours in Health
Chris Ostling PT, DPT