Physical therapists have a vital part to play in combatting non-communicable diseases, through both prevention and rehabilitation, according to an editorial authored by WCPT’s President and Director of Professional Policy in the journal Physiotherapy.
The editorial, by Marilyn Moffat and Tracy Bury, points out that the four main non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes and cancer – account for 30.4 million deaths a year. If physical therapists could capitalise on the opportunity to assess and advise on all four risk factors – tobacco use, physical inactivity, harmful alcohol use and unhealthy diets – in every patient encounter, “the profession would be making a significant contribution to combatting the burden of NCDs”.
There are already resources, such as the health improvement card from the World Health Professions Alliance, to facilitate their involvement, the editorial says. And, at the WCPT General Meeting in 2015, member organisations will consider a new policy statement on NCDs, calling on national physical therapy associations to advocate for the involvement of the profession in strategies to address NCDs.
“The time for concerted action is now,” say Marilyn Moffat and Tracy Bury. “We need to draw on the evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of physical therapy interventions and seize the opportunities to be creative and address all risk factors associated with NCDs, not just physical inactivity.”
The paper appears in a special issue devoted to NCDs, marking Physiotherapy’s 100th volume. The issue will be published this June, but the paper has already been published online.