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:
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.