If you have an interest in the wound care physical therapy specialty, you will be pleased to know that this is now possible. You may – officially – obtain board-certification as a wound management clinical specialist. In the year of 2019, the House of Delegates with the APTA approved wound management board certification in physical therapy. The first exam for certification was given in the year of 2022. As of June, of the year of 2023, there are 23 specialists that have been board certified through the ABPTS. You can be the next!

Wound Care

What is the Wound Management Specialty in PT?

The wound management specialty in physical therapy consists of the complete understanding, the assessment, and the maintenance of the overall integrity of the integumentary system of the body – across the entire lifespan of the individual. Physical therapists that specialize in this area place an emphasis on preventing and in managing various types of wounds and other types of conditions that negatively impact the integumentary system of the body. The goal is to ensure optimal outcome for each patient that the specialist works with in the scope of their profession.

What are the Minimum Eligibility Requirements for Certification?

The following outlines the most basic eligibility requirements to become certified in the wound care physical therapy specialty:

  • The candidate must be a physical therapist that has a permanent license for practice within the United States with no restrictions.
  • Both an application fee and an examination fee must be paid.

In addition to the above-listed requirements, the following options must be met. Either the 1st option or the 2nd option must be met, both options are not required:

  1. First, proof must be provided that documents at least 2,000 hours of direct-based care provided to patients as a fully licensed physical therapist within the United States. This must be directed in the area of specialty within the past 10 years. A total of 500 hours should have been completed within the past 3 years.
  2. You must provide evidence that you have successfully completed an accredited clinical residency program post education through the APTA. This should have been completed within the past decade. If you are in an accredited program with the ABPTRFE and are near completion, you may apply for the examination for the certification.

In addition to this, you must meet the following to become certified within the wound care physical therapy specialty:

You should submit a case report that properly demonstrates the fact that you have had an experience in the specialty of wound management on a patient or a client that you have personally seen in the last 3 years. In addition to this, you must have a current certification in CPR. To obtain this certification, it should have been completed with either the American Red Cross CPR for the Professional Rescuer or the BLS Healthcare Provider Course that is offered by the American Heart Association.

What are the Examination Requirements for Wound Management in Physical Therapy?

When you want to become certified in wound management as a physical therapist, you will need to sit in on and pass a written-based examination. This test reviews the application associated with advanced knowledge and the associated clinical skills. That which will be covered is in the Physical Therapy: Description of Specialty Practice (DSP). This material provides additional content that is related to that which is covered within the wound care physical therapy specialty. If you want to learn about the content of the exam, please review the outline that is included in this DSP book.

The certification examination will be provided by and administered by the PSI Testing Centers that are throughout the United States. If you want to contact the program for certification directly, you may dial extension 8520 at 1-800-999-2782. You may also email spec-cert@apta.org. This email address will allow you to ask about specific information regarding taking the examination and will also be able to provide you with information pertaining to taking the test in an international location.

Bandaging Wound in Leg

What is the Main Role of a PT in Wound Management?

The role of the physical therapist that specializes in wound management is quite extensive. You may find that you provide education to your patients and their loved ones on various topics related to different types of wounds and the successful healing of each of those wounds.

Why is Wound Management a Critical Specialty?

In today’s world, many patients are being treated at home and in healthcare facilities for both acute wounds and chronic wounds. The costs associated with treating wounds is increasing, dramatically. As a result of this fact, it has been determined that it is imperative to have a medical interdisciplinary team dedicated to handling wound management. Many are part of this dedicated team. Examples include doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and more.

Wound management care helps to provide benefits that are both cost-effective and successful for clinicians, those that are payers, healthcare facilities, home healthcare agencies, and the patients that receive the specialized services. Wounds impact approximately 6 million people each year in the United States alone and cost the systems within the healthcare industry at least $20 billion each year. Examples of the most common and costly wounds impacting patients today include pressure ulcers, venous ulcers, and ulcers that occur as a result of diabetes.

Physical Therapists Have a Unique Role in Wound Care

In recent years, there has been an immense shortage of nurses within the United States. This is an issue that is not expected to resolve at any point in the near future. As a result, the skills and the knowledge of physical therapists is quickly becoming a necessity and these specialists are in demand. Physical therapists are highly knowledgeable in wound care. As a result, these specialists aid in offsetting the burden that is currently being experienced by the shortage of nurses that is occurring.

Bandaging Wound

What Therapies Are Offered by Wound Care PT Professionals?

There are many therapeutic-based modalities and procedures that aid in the enhancement of the perfusion of wounds, the management of the prevention of scars, aiding in promoting the best environment for various types of wounds, eliminating excess levels of exudate from the complex wound, and the removal of nonviable tissue that is often found within wounds. Examples of the therapies that are offered by those physical therapists that specialize in wound care management include – but are not limited to – the following:

  • Dressings
  • Debridement
  • Devices That Offer Protection, Support, and Orthotic Benefits
  • Electrotherapeutic Modalities
  • Topical Agent Administration
  • Home Health Care Assessment and Treatment
  • Positioning Instruction and Education
  • Circulation Improvement Techniques
  • Manual Therapy
  • Spinal Joint Manipulation and Mobilization
  • Peripheral Joint Manipulation and Mobilization
  • Sharp Selective Debridement
  • Ultrasound Stimulation
  • Electrical Stimulation
  • Therapies to Decrease Bacteria in Wounds
  • Thermal and Nonthermal Ultrasound Therapy

What are the Main Advantages of a Wound Care Physical Therapist?

There are many advantages to having a wound care physical therapist on a patient care team. These include – but are not limited to – the following:

  1. A wound management physical therapist has the expertise and the knowledge of all principles associated with the healing of wounds.
  2. The professional allows for the need of only their expertise in the areas of coordinating all communications and treatments for the patient’s care – in terms of wounds – for successful healing.
  3. The physical therapist that provides wound care has the ability to create a care plan, oversee that care plan, and implement the treatments that they deem to be most productive for the successful healing of the patient.
  4. The wound management physical therapist has the ability to utilize modalities designed – specifically – for wound healing.
  5. Wound care physical therapists have the ability to mentor and educate all members of their staff to treat the wounds of their patients while decreasing the amount of time that it takes for the patients to heal and to ensure optimal outcomes.
  6. By having an in-house specialist and educator, there are immense cost-savings for the physical therapy practice where the wound management specialist works.
  7. The physical therapist may utilize chart audits to monitor the progress of patients and to make sure that each patient experiences the most optimal outcome.
  8. In addition to the above-listed benefits, having a physical therapist in a practice that is certified in wound care or wound management provides an excellent marketing tool for attracting patients and for encouraging doctors to provide referrals to said agency.

Join Us Today

If you are a physical therapist that has the desire to go as far as possible when it comes to your practice, we here at Colorado Physical Therapy Network encourages you to join us today. We have tools, resources, and even networking opportunities that will help you in advancing in your career. If you would like to learn more about what it is that we have to offer or to find out how we can assist you in advancing your career, you may contact us today by calling: 303-757-7004

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