Since college, when my friends learned that I was taking physical therapy they would ask me for a massage. I would simply joke about it and just dismiss it knowing that they are not that aware as to what our profession is about.
Late last year, the profession was slapped hard when ABS-CBN reporter Jasmin Romero insinuated in her story, Pinoy hilot patok sa loob at labas ng bansa (Filipino massage in demand in and outside the country), that physical therapy is merely a more expensive version of massage therapy, a certificate course. And to think that physical therapy has been in the country since the late ’40s.
Romero’s ignorance shows that even respected members of the community, including the medical community, still don’t know the importance of physical therapy in health care. Clearly, the Philippine Physical Therapy Association failed its mandate in advancing and raising awareness on the profession.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with being a masseur, but they are and will never equate to physical therapy. A masseur could not make an inutile walk or train an athlete to go beyond his optimum. It takes more than massage to do that.
Physical therapists’s knowledge of the disease process and injury has given them the ability to diagnose and recommend treatment in terms of disabilities and impairments. They are almost doctors, so to speak, but, of course, they lack the extensive and specialized training of physicians, as such, are bound to limitations.