Barbara Nordin speaking at the EuroSpine conference in 2014

New physical therapy representation on global musculoskeletal body

Physical therapy has a new global advocate in Margareta Nordin, who has been appointed to the International Coordinating Council of the Bone and Joint Decade (BJD) – the global alliance for musculoskeletal health.

The BJD alliance is a network of more than a thousand national and international patient, professional and scientific organisations, with action networks in over 60 countries. Although the decade formally ended in 2010, the network is driving its agenda to position musculoskeletal conditions as a major public health issue.

Margareta Nordin, Research Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at New York University, is the first physical therapist to be appointed to the BJD’s International Coordinating Council (ICC). Other members come from internal medicine, surgery, chiropractic, public health and patient advocacy.

“I’m the first physical therapist and this will be very rewarding because I can put the profession, and the importance of preventing disability, at the forefront of discussions,” she said. 

“People don’t die of musculoskeletal disorders but they severely affect quality of life and ability to work. Physical therapists worldwide have an enormous impact on that, so I will do whatever I can to lobby for physical therapy services.”

Margareta Nordin has written five books and published more than 190 peer-reviewed papers, focusing on treatment and prevention of disability for work-related musculoskeletal injuries and non-surgical treatment for spine pain. She has participated in five international task forces and was the first woman President of the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine. 

She points to The Lancet’s Global Burden of Disease study, published in 2013, which found that four of the top six causes of years lost to disability in 2010 were in physical therapists’ key areas of expertise – low back pain, neck pain, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other musculoskeletal conditions. 

“The importance of the work of the BJD alliance for musculoskeletal health is becoming increasingly evident,” she says. “It’s about about preventing disability, delivering good diagnostics and healthcare, and making people aware that there are now national action networks in many countries – umbrella organisations that bring together groups concerned with musculoskeletal care including communities, patients, healthcare providers and researchers.” (http://bjdonline.org/national-action-networks/).

“The new slogan for the BJD is ‘Keep people moving’ and physical therapists are among the primary educators for keeping moving,” she says. “The burden of musculoskeletal disease is already enormous and it is growing. Physical therapists must be engaged more in the fight against disability.”

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