Did you know that there are over 350,000 physical therapists, operating in over 100 countries, who help their fellow citizens to achieve greater strength, mobility, dexterity and otherwise improve their physical health? And did you know that, in 27 countries surveyed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, only 44 percent of people with disabilities were employed, while 75 percent of people without a disability were employed?
This year World Physical Therapy Day, which falls on September 8, is focusing on the role that physical therapists have in assisting people who live with disabilities. With a theme of “Fit to Take Part,” this year is a celebration of what people with chronic illness and disability have to contribute to society, and the role that PT has in helping to make that contribution happen.
So why does it matter?
Research shows that the loss for some of the world’s economies is significant—as much as seven percent of the GDP, or gross domestic product—when people with disabilities are not able to meaningfully contribute to their societies. Thus the role of PT in rehabilitation is critically important, not just for those economies, but also for those individuals who otherwise are not able to participate in society. According to the United Nations, “full participation by persons with disabilities will result in their enhanced sense of belonging and in significant advances in the human, social and economic development of society.”
Another important element to World Physical Therapy Day is getting the message out, to both everyday citizens and leaders around the world, that physical therapy is worth the investment. In a time when corners are being cut everywhere, it is important to recognize the value of PT in global health, as well as enhancing participation in society by those who suffer from disability.
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