To PTs:\r\n\r\n<b>\u00a0It's All About Education, Training, and\r\nExperience<\/b>\r\n\r\nI feel compelled to address many of the points raised in The\r\nO&P EDGE's April 2003 article, "Physical Therapists: Are They\r\nEncroaching on O&P?" I believe that this article twists the\r\ntruth and portrays the O&P profession in a negative light.\r\n\r\nWhat the PTs fail to recognize in their drive to expand their\r\nscope of practice and increase personal income is that it is really\r\neducation, training, and experience that make a good orthotist or\r\nprosthetist. It is the problem-solving ability to address patients\r\nwith unique needs that makes orthotists and prosthetists qualified\r\nto provide the care we do. It is our ability to evaluate the\r\npatient properly, make or choose the most appropriate device, and\r\nfit, adjust, and repair that device to each individual patient's\r\nneed that is so critical to our patients. O&P practitioners\r\nbase their decisions on education, training, and experience--not\r\nselecting a device because they saw it in a magazine or attended a\r\nhalf-day seminar.\r\n\r\nAccess to orthotic services was also mentioned as a reason why\r\nPTs are providing orthotic services. The argument advanced is that\r\nsince access to orthotic services is a problem, particularly in\r\nrural areas, PTs should fill this gap. This statement is like\r\nsaying, "Since there are no brain surgeons in my area to treat my\r\ntumor, I will go see my proctologist, since he has surgical and\r\nanatomical training."\r\n\r\nIf physical therapists want to provide orthotic and prosthetic\r\nservices, I strongly suggest that they receive proper education,\r\ntraining, and certification to do so. Instead, PTs have resorted to\r\namending individual state scope-of-practice laws. I think this is\r\nwrong and must be stopped. Physical therapists should not be\r\nallowed to accomplish legislatively what they have not accomplished\r\nthrough formal education and training. To do so only risks the\r\nquality of orthotic and prosthetic care and gives our profession a\r\nbad name.\r\n\r\nI for one will continue to work with PTs in my state to provide\r\nonly the highest level of care to my patients. But I will speak out\r\nand oppose any effort on the state or federal level that I know in\r\nmy heart risks injury to patients in need of O&P services. As\r\nan amputee, I only want to receive my care from a certified\r\npractitioner. O&P services are not DME. I urge all\r\npractitioners to join me and stand up for what we know is\r\nright.\r\n\r\nThomas H. Watson, CP, is president of Tom Watson's Prosthetics\r\n& Orthotics Lab Inc, Owensboro, Kentucky, with an additional\r\nfacility in Evansville, Indiana. He is a past president of the\r\nAmerican Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA).\r\n\r\n<i>Editor's Note<\/i>:\u00a0 We encourage and welcome all comments,\r\nsuggestions and letters to the Editor.