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Purpose: The purpose of this article is to describe the role of a certified geriatric physical therapist (PT) in a geriatric outpatient clinic.

Methods: This pilot study used a model in which a geriatric certified doctor of physical therapy (DPT) provided consultations one afternoon a week for patients in the Outpatient Geriatric Clinic at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC). Data collection included reason for referral, DPT’s interventions, and clinicians’ and patients’ perceptions.

Results: Over 7 months, the DPT consulted on 25 male patients ranging from 65 to 91 years, with a mean age of 80. The majority of patients were classified into the neuromuscular category (64%) and received a home exercise program (60%). The addition of the PT consult service in the Geriatric Outpatient Clinic was well received by the multidisciplinary team.

Conclusion: In addition to their traditional roles, physical therapists now have an opportunity to engage directly in primary care. The model described serves as an example of autonomous practice and the net result is increased quality of care, improved patient satisfaction, and increased knowledge about the profession of physical therapy on behalf of the referring clinician. The findings from this study provide support for the use of this model in settings other than the VAMC’s managed care setting.


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Copyright © 2012 American Physical Therapy Association. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.