Concussion Knowledge Among Physical Therapists and Doctorate Physical Therapy Students
Purpose/Hypothesis: To assess physical therapists and doctorate physical therapy (DPT) students’ knowledge regarding concussion examination, evaluation, and interventions. Number of Subjects: Thirty-one licensed physical therapists and 53 DPT students participated in this study. The average length of practice for licensed physical therapists was 11.8 years, and 45% of DPT students were in their 3rd year of DPT education. Subjects were recruited from the Kentucky Physical Therapy Association and three DPT programs within the State of Kentucky. Materials and Methods: Participants were solicited via an email with a link to an anonymous self-reported survey. The survey consisted of 32 questions over seven content areas relating to demographics, etiology/epidemiology, signs/symptoms, diagnostic tests and measures, treatment/intervention, return to activity, and prevention and safety. Results: Physical Therapists scored higher and significantly better than DPT students (mean = 71.0% physical therapist vs. 64.3% DPT student, t= 2.709, p<0.01). Within the various content areas, diagnostic tests and measures scored the lowest with an average of 45% correct, while treatments/interventions scored highest at 93.5% for both physical therapists and DPT students. Approximately half of the respondents correctly believed that only a physician can medically diagnose a concussion, while the other half incorrectly believed that physical therapists, athletic trainers, or chiropractors are qualified to make the medical diagnosis of concussion. Conclusions: The knowledge between physical therapists and DPT students is significantly different. Physical therapists and DPT students lack knowledge about diagnostic tests and measures used to identify a concussion and wrongly believe they can medically diagnose a concussion. These findings should be addressed via entry level DPT and post-graduate education. Clinical Relevance: The results of this study provide insight into the knowledge base of physical therapists and DPT students regarding concussion. This study shows there is a significant knowledge difference between physical therapists and DPT students. Opportunities exist to improve the knowledge base of physical therapists and DPT students in the area of diagnostic tests and measures to correctly identify concussion. Additionally, a high percentage of physical therapists and DPT students wrongly believe that physical therapists, athletic trainers, or chiropractors are qualified to make the medical diagnosis of concussion, which is outside of their scope of practice.