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Agape Physical Therapy

Why do Physical Therapists need a doctorate degree?

Doctorate of Physical Therapy (PT, DPT)

As a profession physical therapy has moved towards a doctorate degree since 2005. A major consideration in doing this was to allow for direct access to physical therapy without a script from a primary care provider being required. This allows physical therapists, as movement specialists to be the front line provider assessing musculoskeletal impairments. However, to achieve this in a safe and ethical manner physical therapists must be able to differentiate between a musculoskeletal impairment and non musculoskeletal symptoms and pathologies. These symptoms are known as “Red Flags” and  would require a patient to be referred out to the appropriate practitioner to assess and diagnose their symptoms. A red flag symptoms a therapist may look for can range from an irregularly shaped freckle to a stress fracture in a patient's foot. Physical therapists use evidence based practice and are equipped with the proper tools and education to keep our patients safe within our direct access care. 

Red Flag Symptoms:
  • Fracture

  • Cancer

  • Neurologic disorders (MS, ASL, Parkinson’s)

  • Cardiovascular diseases and disorders

  • Organ based referred pain 

Therapists assess a patient's symptoms based on their response to movement. Patients who have a red flag symptom will not respond within the typical pattern of a musculoskeletal impairment or will have no change based on movement. A red flag will prompt a PT to contact the patients primary care provider and refer them out to be assessed to allow for our patients to receive the proper care and medical intervention. 

Hannah Wolfanger, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
[email protected]
My name is Hannah Wolfanger PT, DPT and I am Daemen College graduate. I enjoy traveling to new places and gaining unique experiences. I began my career as a travel physical therapist through which was able to experience various clinic environments and physical therapy treatment styles and techniques. I decided to return to New York in early 2020, and I was lucky enough to find a new home at the Agape clinic in Brockport. I have a passion for working with athletes in sport specific exercises to not only reduce risk of injury, but to improve their ability and skill in their chosen sport.