The White House has announced that APTA is among the organizations that have joined a public-private partnership to combat heroin use and prescription drug abuse, and that the association will reach out to the public and its members to deliver the message that pain can be effectively managed through conservative, nondrug approaches.

APTA is participating in the initiative along with 39 other health care provider groups that include the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Nurses Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons.

“Efforts like these are at the heart of what we mean when we talk about the transformative power of physical therapy,” said APTA President Sharon L. Dunn, PT, PhD, OCS. “Physical therapists can help individuals manage pain, and greater use of physical therapy could make a real impact on the tragic levels of drug abuse in this country—abuse that often begins with a prescription for pain medication.”

The partnership was announced by President Obama during an October 21 visit to Charleston, West Virginia, one of the states hardest-hit by growing rates of opioid abuse, heroin overdose, and related public health issues such as a rise in rates of Hepatitis B and C. During his visit, Obama spoke with individuals affected by the epidemic, including families, law enforcement personnel, and community leaders, before announcing the ramped-up efforts.

On hand for the White House announcement was Mick Bates, PT, a member of the West Virginia House of Representatives.

Earlier this year, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy met with Dunn and Mandy Frohlich, APTA vice president of strategic communications and alliances—at that time the association’s vice president of government affairs—to discuss the role of physical therapy in battling drug abuse.

The association’s focus on the ways physical therapy can help patients manage pain is already being acknowledged by other media outlets, which have been writing about the importance of multidisciplinary approaches to pain that include exercise prescriptions.


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