Nervous About the NPTE?

July 22nd and 23rd are the dates for the summer National Physical Therapy Exams. PTAG has approximately 1,700 members comprised of PT’s, PTA’s and Students; and the students are nervously studying at this very moment (hopefully), so that they may receive certification.

While the test days are approaching, here are some things to ponder:

  • The NPTE is an exam that was meant to challenge you in new ways to show that you have actually learned something in PT/PTA school. The Scorebuilders study system is reported to be extremely helpful. Many users have raved about this system online. If you do decide to purchase the system, use their iPod app to study test questions at every available moment. If you decide not to invest in Scorebuilders, don’t fret. Free practice tests are available online. (Some links below).
  • The testing center may take your picture and finger prints. In some testing facilities a monitor may come through the test hall periodically to check that everything is going smoothly. Security measures may be intense so, but don’t let them distract you!
  • The test questions will be relevant, if you know the material well, you won’t have to guess.

The 2014 NPTE will be up to date on the latest practices and require more clinical reasoning. Study hard and know the reasoning for the answer in all of your practice exams. This can be challenging because many practice exams do not explain both the right and the wrong answers.


Good luck to all students! If you need to study a bit more, check out these online practice tests:

Local Physical Therapist Serves Those Who Serve Us

Dr. Ryan DecarreauDr.Ryan Decarreau, a local physical therapist, is making a difference in the lives of those who serve us. Dr. Deccarreau, through a program called THOR3, is managing and training a new type of athlete: the United States Special Operations Soldier. THOR3 applies Sports Medicine treatment and techniques, usually reserved for collegiate and professional athletes, to our soldiers in the Special Forces. This specific model is aimed at improving both mental and physical capabilities of our soldiers to better prepare them for the physical demands linked with combat training and deployment.

THOR3 (the Tactical Human Optimization Rapid Rehabilitation and Reconditioning program) is an initiative sanctioned by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) to provide optimal healthcare and training for our servicemen and women.

“This program has offered me a good opportunity to give back to our military as well as challenged me professionally,” says Dr. Decarreau. “I work with a group of soldiers who appreciate the day-to-day help in keeping them healthy. It has been very rewarding to see our soldiers train like tactical athletes and see the benefits of our program.”

Dr. Decarreau’s physical therapy, sports medicine, and athlete management experience made him the perfect candidate for (THOR3). Over the course of three years at Hunter Army Airfield (Savannah, GA), Dr. Decarreau has been able to expand his skillset beyond the typical requisites associated with civilian sports therapy, while adapting to a multitude of obstacles and challenges that are inherent to his patients’ military duties and deadlines.

Dr. Decarreau notes that while his patients often have to travel – making treatment difficult to regiment– our soldiers have a great deal of discipline, which yields great participation in office visits and even home exercise routines. According to Decarreau, “It has a lot to do with the culture and it is pretty impressive to witness.”

“Through programs like THOR3 and the dedication of physical therapists like Dr. Decarreau, our military personnel will continue to have access to cutting edge healthcare and treatment,” says Barney Poole, PT, DPT President of the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia (PTAG). “We thank him for his dedication to serving those that serve and defend our country. Dr. Decarreau is a worthy representative of our physical therapy community.”

“Overall, it is an honor to work with our soldiers! The group I work with is truly the best at what they do. I am excited to go to work each day to serve those who serve us,” says Decarreau.

Georgia’s PT Educational Opportunities Expand: First Sports Residency Program Participant Certified

Modern Physical Therapy is a far-cry from its humble beginnings at the turn of the 20th Century— and even twenty years ago. The rapid progress of the profession has been spurred by myriad of reasons, such as advances in research, technology, and a growing demand for licensed professionals.  Perhaps the most important factor contributing to the positive evolution of modern physical therapy stems from individual physical therapists seeking post-professional opportunities to improve their knowledge, skills and abilities in a specialty area of practice.

Physical therapists, like those of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), refuse to be complacent, and strive to raise the bar for the profession. Receiving its accreditation from the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Programs in October 2013, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is now the first and only Sports Residency Program in the state of Georgia— and one of the few in the country—dedicated to the care of young athletes.

Led by Julie Johnson, PT, MPT, SCS, CSCS and Program Director, and a team of 19 faculty members, the Sports Residency Program has just certified its first participant. Dr. Kelli McLaren, PT, DPT completed her residency and passed the sports specialty examination given by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties, becoming a Sports Certified Specialist.

Dr. McLaren began her residency in August of 2013 and has logged over 2,000 hours of clinical rotations in the Sports Medicine department, community sideline coverage and adjunct didactic educational experiences in other departments of CHOA. The choice to further her post-professional education mirrors a growing trend within the physical therapy profession to specialize since 1985.

Currently, Georgia offers six other residency programs of various specializations through Mercer University, Emory University and PT Solutions. The addition of this specialized certification program to Georgia’s physical therapy education opportunities is a testament to our members’ commitment to professional development, high standards and lifelong learning.


To learn more about the new Sports Medicine Residency program, visit our friends at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta by clicking here.

To view a complete list of all available physical therapy residency programs offered in Georgia, visit the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education page by clicking here.

Peer-to-Peer Member Spotlight: Getting to Know Dr. Scott Hasson

ImageDr. Scott Hasson has been in teaching and research for 29 years, and currently serves as the Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy at Georgia Regents University.

His active career and dedication to the physical therapy profession earn him recognition as the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia’s May Member Spotlight.

Let’s meet PTAG member Dr. Hasson:

What is your educational background?

I have a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology/Chemistry, and a Masters in Physical Education both from California State University – Fresno. I have a Doctorate in Exercise Science from the University of Northern Colorado, and Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Texas Medical Branch – Galveston.

How did you end up in the PT industry?

I already had my Doctorate in Exercise Science and was working as the Director of Rehabilitation in Cheyenne, WY., for a pain management center where I focused on work hardening and on-site training, preparing individuals returning to work.

This was in the very early 80’s and physical therapists and occupational therapists seemed to know very little regarding principles of exercise physiology and motor learning. I realized I did not know enough about pathology, and wanted to move into a more medical focused field.

I considered medicine, but felt I could contribute to physical therapy and perhaps have an impact on the field by promoting exercise science.

I contacted Dr. Helen Hislop at the University of Southern California – after reading some of her work and editorials. She suggested we meet and I flew from Wyoming to Rancho Los Amigos in Downey, CA. Her guidance and advice helped launch me into the field.

Ultimately I wrote the first text on Clinical Exercise Physiology and have been a proponent for Exercise Science as a basis for rehabilitation – especially for patients with Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis – for the past 25 years.

What is the best part about your job?

I enjoy mentoring both faculty and students.

I try to use my network to advance my students while they are here working on their Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), usually by trying to get them affiliations with outstanding clinicians. Once they graduate, I recommend continued growth in the field through residencies, obtaining advanced credentials or becoming PhD’s for those interested in research and mentoring.

I also work with faculty to assist them in realizing and pursuing their dreams in the field. Sometimes it is assisting them in writing their research or in trying to get the financial support for their professional growth or service ideas.

At this time in my career I am here to serve my students, faculty and profession.

Who has been one of the most influential people in your career?

There are two individuals – Dr. Helen Hislop who started me in the field and Dr. Elizabeth Protas, Dean of the College of Allied Health at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX.

These two women – along with my wife Ellen and three daughters Karen, Annie and Katie – are the reason why I have had success in my career.

My daughter Karen is a DPT who recently sat for her Neurological Certified Specialist exam after completing her Neuro Residency with Harris County Health in the Houston Medical Center.

What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

People may be surprised to know that I already had my doctorate prior to becoming a physical therapist. Also, that my daughters collect snakes, and now that two of them have moved out of the house, I am the official “Snake Man!”

Do you know an extraordinary PT, PTA or student worth of recognition? Show your support by submitting nominations at

Avoid Overtraining: Staying Safe While Improving Fitness

Overtraining can be a concern for all people pursuing fitness – no matter age or activity.

Regular exercise can help produce long-term benefits, but it is important that all activities are done safely and in a manner that prevents injury while improving physical performance. Pushing your body too hard can result in serious injuries that may be detrimental to your health – and fitness goals.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), overtraining injuries are musculoskeletal injuries that occur due to more activity or exercise than your body is used too – and it can happen to anyone who significantly increases the intensity or changes type of activity.  

Overtraining injuries can include physical injuries, as well as general fatigue and other symptoms. These symptoms can range from physiological changes, such as increased heart rate or blood pressure, to behavioral shifts including decreased motivation, lowered self-esteem or even personality changes.

After a hard workout, it is important to be aware of these symptoms and to recognize any significant changes.

Fortunately, there are a number of strategies to safely – and successfully – improve your fitness. Try following these tips from Move Forward PT, to avoid overtraining injuries:

  • Avoid increasing exercise difficulty level too quickly – Exercise should progress at a gradual pace, try following a structure plan that increases your activity steadily to avoid potential injury.
  • Pay attention to your body: Watch your body for symptoms and signs of overtraining.
  • Ease into it: If you are new to fitness, be sure to take things slow. The lack of conditioning and gradual body build-up can lead to serious injuries including, stress fractures, muscles tears and knee problems.
  • Take a break: If you feel tired, listen to your body. Try lessening your activity or resting to help your body recover after a tough workout.

Physical therapists are available to help you reach your fitness goals while achieving long-term health benefits. Using their knowledge of mobility, motion and management, they can devise safe exercise plans that improve your quality of life, while avoiding the risk of overtraining.

Find a PT in your area to get started with your custom fitness plan.

For additional resources on fitness safety and overtraining prevention from American Physical Therapy Association and the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia visit or

Top Job: Physical Therapy Continues to Rank High on the List of Best Jobs

For the second year in a row, ranked physical therapy in the top 20 on their list of best jobs in America.

The annual Jobs Rated report featured physical therapy at number 15 out of more than 200 listed jobs – with rankings based on a number of factors including environment, income, job outlook, and stress level.

These numbers should come as no surprise given the phenomenal growth projection for the PT industry.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2022 physical therapy employment will increase nationally by 36 percent, with the field adding 73,500 new jobs. Employment outlook for physical therapy assistants is also expected to increase by 29 percent, with an additional 41,000 new jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the steady demand for physical therapy services can be attributed to an aging baby boomer population.

Baby boomers represent a significant – and growing – portion of the U.S. population. In fact, by 2015, those aged 50 and older will represent 45% of the U.S. population according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

With age come a number of physical hardships – including heart disease, stroke, arthritis and other serious health conditions. As more of the general population moves towards middle and old age – physical therapy is becoming a popular tool to combat the challenges of aging, significantly increasing the need for physical therapists.

Fortunately, there is significant interest among the younger generation in pursuing physical therapy as a career.

Data from the American Physical Therapy Association indicates that as of year-end 2010, there are 213 accredited physical therapist education programs, 13 developing doctor of physical therapy (DPT) programs, and 33,800 entry-level DPT graduates.

Additionally, between 2004 and 2009, the number of applicants to physical therapist education programs increased, on average, by 110% and actual enrollments increased by 45.3%.

There are a number of opportunities for physical therapists to remain an important part of the healthcare system now – and in future.

And as the physical therapy industry continues to rank high as one of the best jobs in America, the supply of talented, hard-working physical therapists is sure to increase simultaneously to meet the rising demand.

A Family Affair: Smart Moves for Busy Families

FamilyKeeping your family fit and active by promoting physical activity is an incredibly important step towards establishing a healthy lifestyle.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines, children should get 1 hour or more of physical activity every day. In addition, adults should do 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 1 hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.

Regular physical activity can produce tremendous benefits. It can help reduce pain, restore flexibility and increase strength and cardiovascular endurance. It can also help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, manage glucose levels, and assist with pre-existing health conditions.

The techniques and exercise tools provided by physical therapists can help almost everyone reach their fitness goals and achieve long-term health benefits.

Using their extensive knowledge of mobility, motion and management, they can devise safe exercise programs for people of all ages and abilities – building life-long habits that encourage physical fitness.

Incorporating fitness into an everyday routine may seem daunting for a busy family, but it is simple – and a great way to improve your quality of life.

Try these family fitness tips from Move Forward to help keep your family healthy, happy and physically active.

  • Gather your family for weekend workouts to encourage physical activity. In Georgia, there are a number of fun activities including running, hiking, bicycling or swimming offered through state parks
  • Encourage your children to participate in individualized or group sports at their school
  • Provide positive rewards for your child when he or she engages in physical activities or makes a significant lifestyle change
  • Make exercise and physical activity a priority for the entire family – not just a chore
  • Walking isn’t costly and it’s easy. Get outdoors and explore!
  • Help your child plan physical activities with friends and neighbors
  • Be your child’s “exercise buddy.” Organize daily activities and set goals that you can enjoy together

Regular exercise can help produce long-term benefits, but it is important that all activities are done safely and in a manner that prevents injury while improving physical performance.

Physical therapists in Georgia are available to meet for health and wellness consultations without a referral from a doctor, with some insurance policies covering the cost.

Plan to utilize this resource to establish safe, health preserving techniques that improve the quality of life for you – and your family.

For additional resources on family fitness plans or PT resources from the American Physical Therapy Association and the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia visit or  

Members in Motion, Raising Awareness of the Physical Therapy Profession at the Georgia Legislature

ImageOver the past year, PTAG has been working hard to increase our presence and influence at the Georgia State Capitol and to elevate our role in the greater healthcare community.

Recently, the physical therapy profession has seen significant amounts of progress – and the incredible success of our 2014 Physical Therapy Day at the Capitol was a testament to the accumulation of these efforts.

More than 100 physical therapists, physical therapy assistants and physical therapy students from across Georgia gathered at the Capitol on Feb. 25, where we had the opportunity to meet with elected officials and legislators to discuss the importance of physical therapy services, along with the inherent cost saving benefits.

The tremendous attendance made a significant impression on the capitol that day, and demonstrated the strong presence our profession maintains in the state of Georgia.

Members enjoyed a full agenda of activities and operated various fitness assessment stations for visitors including, Functional Movement Screens, golf swing analysis, blood pressure analysis and “Ask a PT” programs. They also met with Gov. Nathan Deal and Speaker of the House David Ralston, attended committee meetings and took pictures with members of the House and Senate.

Picture 4Several legislators took time to visit our room, participate in the fitness stations and speak to our members – providing excellent insight into the legislative process and issues facing our profession.

In addition, House Health and Human Services Committee Chair Sharon Cooper was recognized with the “Legislator of the Year Award” for her support and dedication to highlighting the physical therapy profession in the legislative process.

The amazing turnout for the 2014 Physical Therapy Day at the Capitol was made possible because of our dedicated members who took the opportunity to shine light on current issues affecting health care consumers now – and in future.

As we continue to move forward, it is important that we maintain this same momentum and ensure that our collective voices continue to be heard, understood and acted upon. Our members are vital in elevating important issues to the forefronts of legislative agendas, and we encourage our members to continue becoming actively involved in advocating for the PT profession.

We thank all of those in attendance and look forward to meeting at the “Gold Dome” again next year!

RM Barney Poole, PT, DPT, ATC

To see additional pictures please visit the PTAG Facebook page at

Rehabilitation and Recovery, Atlanta Physical Therapist Helps Lead Georgia StrokeNet

ImagePhysical Therapist and Atlanta resident, Dr. Steve Wolf, has spent the last 35 years of his career researching ways to treat patients who have sustained a stroke.

It was his first clinical PT job working in the Boston US Public Health Service Hospital that inspired him to better understand the techniques and treatment options he was using on his patients – further driving his determination to focus on stroke rehabilitation efforts.

Over the years he has led many federally funded stroke rehabilitation studies.

From 2000-2006 he served as the principal investigator for the Extremity Constraint Induced Therapy Evaluation (EXCITE) trial – the first multi-site National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical trial for upper extremity treatment in patients with sub-acute stroke. Throughout his career, Dr. Wolf has worked with multiple physicians in the Atlanta area on furthering stroke rehabilitation techniques and procedures.

Most recently, he delivered the Anne Shumway-Cook lecture, “My Wonderful Neurorehabiliation Journey: Where I’ve Been and Where We Could Go,” to hundreds of fellow PTs at the American Physical Therapy Association’s Combined Sections Meeting in Las Vegas.

Dr. Wolf continues to use his experience, knowledge and passion to research and develop stroke recovery.

“A lot of what happens in recovery happens in the first 48 hours,” says Dr. Wolf. “Those of us who are interested in quality of life, mobility, movement and function have a major responsibility for those patients.”

Stroke is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 130,000 Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And while strokes account for a significant number of deaths in the US, research efforts are complicated.

Early last year, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) decided to change the way they fund clinical studies after seeing that many projects funded at the national level were failing, unable to secure patients for the studies. In response, NINDS created StrokeNet – a five-year program dedicated to facilitating the implementation and completion of randomized clinical trials in acute stroke.

Dr. Wolf was appointed co-chair of the Neuro Recovery and Rehabilitation component of NINDS StrokeNet, and alongside Dr. David Wright, MD, will serve as co-principal investigator representing the Emory University School of Medicine. Michael Frankel, MD, Professor of Neurology and Director of the Marcus Stroke Center at Grady Memorial Hospital is the lead investigator for the Emory/Atlanta site.

Dr. Wolf’s team was selected among 120 applicants to work alongside 25 regional coordinating centers across the country to complete national clinical trials that the NINDS seeks to accomplish. Selected applicants for StrokeNet will lead research teams focused in three different contact areas – immediate intervention after stroke, prevention of secondary stroke, and recovery (rehabilitation).

Introducing the rehabilitation component of StrokeNet marks the first time that NINDS has acknowledged physical therapy as an important part of recovery.

“Neurointerventionists and many neurologists don’t think much about what happens after the first few days following stroke,” says Dr. Wolf. “Recovery – and the role physical therapy plays – is an incredibly important part of the overall rehabilitation effort.”

The Emory stroke team will serve as the only site in Georgia to participate in the program, and one of only five other sites in the South – responsible for recruiting patients in the Georgia area to participate in clinical trials.

Dr. Wolf and his team will enlist the knowledge base and involvement of PTs in the state, and visit area hospitals to encourage patients to participate in the hope of providing learning opportunities for those affected by stroke.

“We are not trying to take patients away from anyone,” says Dr. Wolf. “Instead, we are trying to provide additional opportunities for research at no cost to them.”

Currently, most insurance carriers will only cover the first month post-stroke rehabilitation efforts, leaving many patients without the resources to continue and truly benefit from the recovery process.

Dr. Wolf hopes that that the Georgia StrokeNet team will provide additional research options for patients as well as provide a unique informational basis for PTs interested in stroke.

“We want to engage and encourage physical therapists to not only become potential referrals, but to also provide them with opportunities to benefit from this project,” says Dr. Wolf. “This is an incredible opportunity to utilize our experience and expertise to provide a unique information basis for those interested in stroke recovery.”

Are you a Georgia PT interested in learning more about the Georgia StrokeNet? Please contact Amy Reiss at 404-712-8685 or email for additional information on how you can help.  

Guest Blog: Olly, Olly, Oxen Free

‘Olly olly oxen free’ is a catch phrase used in children’s games, like Hide and Seek, to indicate that the players in hiding can come out of hiding without penalty, generally because the game is either over, the players need a break, or the rules are changing.

Well, as 2014 roars ahead in reimbursement for PT services, don’t you ever feel like hitting the pause button and claiming ‘olly olly oxen free’?   If we consider all the complexity of payment rules for all the different settings in the practice of physical therapy, it is mind boggling and just when you think you know the situation, it changes again.  Also, have you ever noticed that we are acronym crazy in this alphabet soup world? For instance, to name a few, CMS has promulgated  the MPPR, PQRS, the FLR G-codes, ICD-10, CCI edits, and is waiting on SGR reform?  Whew…..  enough to give anyone a headache.

The good news in all of this is that we continue to grow as a profession – the public continues to hand over copays for our service (although too high as insurances have deemed us specialists) and consumers continue to seek out our services and choose our value over surgery or self treatment.  We know who we are as physical therapists and what we can do to help people in unique ways that no other profession does or can do.  So, when I need to “reset” my perspective away from the minutia of billing and coding cobwebs, my version of ‘olly olly oxen free’ is to reflect on the basics of the art and science of physical therapy and transform that knowledge and skill set into what I can accomplish for my immediate patient in terms of outcomes,  satisfaction, and value in what we do to help others.

What a great time to be a Physical Therapist!

Don Walsh, PT, DPT, OCS

Walsh serves as Vice President of the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia and is the Director of Outpatient Rehab at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.


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