Better outcomes for a wider range of patients
How diverse is physical therapy?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 5% of all practising physical therapists are African-American. And only 3% of all physical therapy students were African-American, while 6% were Hispanic, according to the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.
So diversity is a known issue in the physical therapy industry. Why does it matter?
Why are diversity and inclusion important in physical therapy?
Studies have shown that having diverse staff backgrounds help physical therapy providers better connect with minority patients and offer person-centred care better able to handle the cultural and social needs of an increasingly diverse patient population.
Patients should have the option to choose a therapy provider with who they feel comfortable with, who they can relate. A lack of diversity could prevent patients from feeling wholly comfortable in a medical setting, which could then prevent them from engaging in open dialogue with their providers, thereby preventing them from receiving the best possible care.
The benefits of having a diverse physical therapy workforce include:
• Increased knowledge about disability issues among students, faculty, staff, and alumni;
• Better understanding of cultural differences that may affect client outcomes;
• Improved communication between providers and clients;
• Development of more creative solutions to problems.
PTMLA Faculty Adviser at USC, Terry Richardson, said: “When you can deal with someone who looks like you and you believe they can understand where you're coming from a little more than someone from another ethnicity, then sometimes I think that does contribute to better outcomes in a lot of ways”.
How do you include a more diverse group of people in your physical therapy practice?
Unconscious and implicit bias: what is it and why does it happen?
With all the information our brains take in each day, unconsciously there is a need for shortcuts to process it all, which come in the form of intuition and generalisations, which often bypass objectivity. These are our unconscious biases and they are difficult to spot and deal with when they don’t serve their purpose well.
How do these biases affect hiring practices?
The story of the Boston Symphony Orchestra explains this best. The orchestra was comprised almost entirely of men. As part of creating a more diverse orchestra, the company started conducting blind auditions. Orchestra hopefuls would perform their audition pieces behind a screen in an effort to avoid bias. However, the orchestra still hired men, overwhelmingly so. This was because the judges could hear the women auditioners' high heels and therefore identified their gender. Once the orchestra began asking auditioners to take off their shoes, the number of women hired increased dramatically.
What can your practice do to combat biases when hiring physical therapists?
Small steps can make a big difference. Although interviewing behind a closed curtain might not be appropriate in a clinic, reviewing applications for job vacancies while omitting their names can play a part to reduce bias. Even the most well-meaning people can be susceptible to biased hiring decisions, so investigating different ways to test for and remove bias in the hiring process is key.
What other steps can you take to support inclusion for better patient outcomes?
Aside from hiring fairly to better represent a wide range of patient backgrounds, your physical therapy equipment must be fit for purpose for a wide range of patients too.
Thankfully Dyaco Medical physical therapy solutions support any patient, no matter their size, movement ability or stage of recovery.
Here are examples of products that can help your facility cater to a wider range of patients and speed up their recovery in the process.
MED range - medically-certified inpatient products
Our MED range provides caregivers with advanced features to deliver better outcomes to their patients suffering from a wide range of neurological, cardiovascular, or musculoskeletal issues:
This bike’s swivelling seat functionality makes sitting and exiting super easy for a wide range of patients. For example, it is perfect for deconditioned or assisted patients, helping them to be correctly aligned when sitting for their physical therapy session.
The fully adjustable parallel bars offer handrail support for users who need more stability and safety. Adjustments can also accommodate users of various heights and fitness abilities.
The removable step provides a lower step-up height for people who need a bit more stability getting on and off the treadmill. This is perfect for any patients you have with balance limitations, smaller ranges of motion, or older adults.
This seated stepper’s removable seat provides direct wheelchair access. Now you can offer accessibility to wheelchair-bound patients while still providing a quality workout.
This machine is fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure accessibility for the widest range of disabilities.
PT range - hospital-grade rehabilitation for commercial use
Small increment adjustments on each device in our PT range combine with other useful features to create a customized patient treatment in your business, regardless of age, size or physical abilities.
The full-length handrails span the length of the generous 56 x 152 cms walking surface for improved balance, safety and better user confidence.
This rehabilitation treadmill is perfect for any patients with balance, coordination and mobility challenges, or individuals who lack confidence on a treadmill.
This bike’s low-step entry makes it welcoming and accessible for users with limited mobility.
Its oversized, padded seat with lumbar support provides a comfortable fit for a wide variety of users.
This stepper’s semi-recumbent position minimises impact on the joints and offers upper-body only, lower-body only, and total body exercise
The handles adjust both in length and positioning for legs-only, arms-only, or total-body workouts to suit a variety of users.