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A Job in Focus: Physical Therapist

By John M. Williams

Editor’s note: PT Kevin Linde has worked with writer John M. Williams for nearly three years.

A few years ago, my neurologist, Dr. Suneetha Manem, told me to find a physical therapist to help me deal with my Parkinson’s disease. Browsing the Internet, I came across a PT named Kevin Linde whose office is in Fairfax, Va.

From the start of our relationship, Linde has been very attentive to my needs. He listens. He probes. He recommends. In my estimation, he has excellent instincts in knowing when you have achieved all that an exercise can help you achieve and then recommending another one.

He is the fourth physical therapist I have seen but the only one who has focused specifically on my Parkinson’s disease. I see him twice a week for 45 minutes. He has developed a physical therapy program that I believe has helped me deal positively with my disease. We spoke recently about his career. Excerpts from that interview are as follows:

Q: What did you do before you went into physical therapy?
A: I worked as an electrician for about five years.

Q: What motivated you to get into the PT profession?
A: I was a competitive gymnast for about 14 years and during that time I had a fair number of injuries. I often had physical therapy for these injuries and was always interested in understanding the injury and the anatomy. I also like the idea of helping others return to sports or other activities after an injury.

Q: How long have you been a PT?
A: Seventeen years.

Q: Where did you get your degree in PT?
A: I studied at the University of Manitoba in Canada.

Q: What type of a degree does a PT receive?
A: Most programs in the United States offer a doctor of physical therapy program.

Q: How long does it take to become a PT?
A: One must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree prior to being accepted into a program. It takes about three years to complete the doctor of physical therapy program.

Q: What are the challenges a PT faces?
A: The decline in reimbursement from private and government insurance is making it difficult to provide quality health care and maintain a successful practice. Another issue is the amount of documentation required by some payers. This takes time away from the most important part of our job, which is patient care. Often, documentation will have to be completed after hours.

Q: Do you have to get training annually to continue work as a PT?
A: Different states have different requirements as far as continuing education is concerned. Currently, I need to obtain 30 hours of continuing education every two years.

Q: Are there areas of specialty that a PT can specialize in?
A: Yes there are a number of specialties. A few of the different areas include orthopedics, geriatrics, neurological, pediatric and cardiopulmonary.

Q: As a PT, do you work closely with the doctors of your patients?
A: Yes. We communicate regularly to maintain continuity of care.

Q: Is there one injury that is more common than others that you deal with? What is it?
A: Low back pain is the most common condition treated. About 80% of all adults experience some form of low back pain in their lifetime.

Q: Can you write prescriptions for your patients?
A: No. Physical therapists cannot write prescriptions.

Q: Does patient-PT privilege or privacy exist between you and your patients?
A: Yes. Patient confidentiality is strictly adhered to and is strongly controlled by HIPPA regulations.

Q: How do most of your patients hear about you?
A: I have a few doctors that refer them to me quite often, but I think that most of my patients are referred by previous or current patients.

Q: How busy are you?
A: Fortunately, I am very busy. My patient contact hours are about 48-50 hours per week.

Q: Where are you from?
A: I was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Q: How long is the average stay of your patients?
A: The average length of time that I would see patients is about 6-8 weeks. There is a very large range as some diagnoses are very acute while others may be quite chronic.

Q: Do you call the people you treat “patients”?
A: Yes.

Q: Thank you.
A: You are welcome.

John M. Williams coined the term “assistive technology.” His website address is

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