As a physical therapist, it is likely that you understand the impact of nutrition on a patient’s recovery and general level of function. Regardless of what type of physical therapy you currently specialize in, there should always be a comprehensive concern that relates to your client’s nutritional intake and general eating patterns. If you have a keen interest in nutrition, you may be the perfect candidate to specialize in nutritional physical therapy.
What is Nutritional Physical Therapy?
In the past, individuals who received their certification in physical therapy would integrate nutritional components into their regimen of care with each of their clients. This was a type of complimentary service.
Recently, though, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and its associated House of Delegates have officially passed a measure that states that all physical therapists may now and should provide some level of nutritional counseling to the patients that they serve.
While many physical therapists are doing that, many are taking it a step further and actually obtaining a certification in nutritional physical therapy.
If you have an interest in health and an appreciation for nutrition and its role in the body, this may be an area in which you find an interest in specializing.
What Do Nutritional Physical Therapists Do?
There is a direct role between physical therapy, nutrition, and patient outcomes. When a physical therapist works with patients, they must actively assist in nutritional management through comprehensive evaluations. While exercise is the core component of physical therapy, proper nutrition is the core component that results in the success of those exercises.
Nutritional physical therapists actively engage in nutritional screening, outline a physical therapy regimen specified for each patient, and offer nutritional interventions to provide an optimal outcome for the patient.
How Do Nutritional Physical Therapists Help People?
Nutritional physical therapists help patients in a large assortment of ways. The purpose and intent of the steps taken with patients is to maximize the functionality, activity levels, and active participation of patients. In turn, all of these components work together to increase the quality of life that the patient experiences.
It is a known fact that many patients who undergo physical therapy are those patients that also suffer from underlying nutritional problems. By addressing these issues, it is believed that nutritional physical therapy can have a significantly positive whole-body impact.
Food intake is both important to the health and beneficial to patients. Until recently, there was an insufficient degree of training and education on the best foods for nutrition-based health and the general health statuses of patients in the physical therapy industry. Now, there is a certified nutritional physical therapy (CNPT®) system that has been designed to optimize health through nutritional supplementation.
Originally, this started in Japan. It has now made its way to the United States. It is also known as “Rehabilitation Nutrition”.
Therapists that become certified develop special skills in nutritional screening and evaluations. Nutritional knowledge is now considered to be essential in the field of physical therapy and required for successful patient outcomes.
The nutritional physical therapist helps people by tailoring physical therapy-based interventions specifically designed according to the nutritional status of each individual patient.
How to Get Certified in Nutritional Physical Therapy
In order to become certified in nutritional physical therapy, a professional physical therapist must undergo the successful completion of all three of the courses that have been approved by the APTA. After successfully completing the course, a certification examination is given to the physical therapist. Once this is passed, the therapist receives their certification in nutritional physical therapy.
It is then that the physical therapist has the right to legally engage in the nutritional management of each of their patients. Those that obtain certification may continue to offer general physical therapy with nutritional management or may elect to focus solely on the nutritional physical therapy specialty.
What are the Four Components of Nutritional Physical Therapy?
In short, there are at least four individual components that are associated with nutritional physical therapy. These are outlined below with a brief description of each:
- Basic Nutritional Knowledge – With this knowledge, you are able to customize a nutritional plan for each individual client that you work with based on their medical history, family history, and nutritional needs. You understand how nutrition corresponds with the health of your patients.
- Patient Assessment – In this component, you assess each of your patients and the diet that they partake in to make modifications to their diet, adjust their exercise regimen, and in order to determine if they should be referred to another type of specialist, such as an endocrinologist for patients with diabetes and other types of metabolic disorders.
- Provide Recommendations – This component involves providing diet and food-based recommendations that are scientifically evidence-based to each patient. These are based on the condition and diet of the patient and are done in order to optimize the recovery process, reduce inflammation within the body, and eliminate pain levels that are experienced.
- Education of Patients – In this component, you are well-versed in food choices and the associated benefits and drawbacks to each. You are capable of designing a diet or food selection program for your patients based on their individual needs. It is not a one size fits all approach. Each patient has unique nutritional requirements, various health histories, and individual needs. You will have the capability of addressing all of these aspects of patient care on a case-by-case basis with little to no assistance from nutritionists and other diet experts.
How Much Do Nutrition Physical Therapists Make and Is There a Demand?
Nutritional physical therapists typically make anywhere from $30 to $37 an hour, depending on their location. Of course, larger cities and larger medical facilities typically pay more.
Also, there is a low supply of these physical therapy specialists, which means that there is currently a high demand for these specialists. This is a relatively new position in the medical field. If you are able to get in now and secure your spot in the field, you will have a solid, safe, and secure future – in terms of employment.
Is Nutrition Physical Therapy the Same as Health Coaching?
No, nutritional physical therapy is not the same as health coaching. Nutritional physical therapy focuses on creating a nutritionally-sound guideline or plan for patients that suffer from unique health conditions and have unique requirements.
A health coach simply comes up with health objectives, sets goals, and holds patients accountable until they reach their health goals. While these two professionals would work well together in helping patients, they are two different things.
We here at the Colorado Physical Therapy Network provide a base organization for all types of therapists – including physical therapists and nutritional physical therapists. If you enjoyed the guide that you just read, would like access to additional guides, resources, and tools, and have a desire to maximize your career as a physical therapist, we encourage you to join our network today. This is especially true if you have your own practice. T
he tools and resources that we offer are even more comprehensive when it comes to practices. To learn more or to set up your membership immediately, we encourage you to visit the following link now: https://coloradophysicaltherapynetwork.com/