Christina Howard is the President of the Oregon Physical Therapy Association (OPTA) which partners with Destination Rehab! OPTA is a chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). OPTA works to improve the health and quality of life of individuals in society by advancing physical therapist education, practice, and research as well as increase the awareness and understanding of physical therapy's role in the nation's health care system. OPTA is a committed group of physical therapy providers that care deeply about quality of life through optimal movement. Our members are invested in social, professional, and organizational means to be effective agents of change, allies, and advocates for our patients and providers. We have over 1500 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and physical therapy student members from across Oregon.
Q: How and why did you connect with Destination Rehab?
A: We connected with DR through its founder Carol-Ann Nelson, who is an OPTA member. Carol-Ann saw an opportunity to create a large-scale inclusive activity day for Oregonians living with disability and OPTA had means to apply for an APTA Health Promotion Grant to support the event. It was a win-win partnership!
Q: What is an unknown or lesser known fact about the organization?
A: OPTA successfully advocated for direct access, which means that patients can see a physical therapist without referral from a physician. Many Oregonians and health care providers believe that a doctor's order is required to see a physical therapist. We’d love more people to know that when it comes to disorders of the movement system, they can see a movement expert, and that's a physical therapist.
Q: What was your favorite Destination Rehab event from 2017 and why?
A: By far, our favorite event was SOAR! It was wonderful to have interprofessional volunteers and physical therapy students celebrate activity with community members and families who share a love for recreation and embrace inclusiveness. Activity is the great equalizer and DR was a way to infuse equity into movement and recreation and have fun!
Q: What is a personal goal you have for this upcoming year?
A: This year, OPTA is continuing its community outreach through a grant partnership with the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors to increase engagement in the Walk With Ease (WWE) program which is a self-directed exercise and walking program for persons living with arthritis. OPTA is very committed to creating and sustaining partnerships that will make measurable changes in quality of life by contributing our expertise and energy to programs and services that optimize movement, and the WWE program is just another way for physical therapists to reach out into our communities, make healthy interventions accessible, and provide Oregonians with the tools to use movement as medicine.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with the larger community?
A: With optimizing movement comes a need for OPTA to ensure that physical therapy providers, health care providers, and the public understand the complex effects of pain on the movement system. OPTA is working to increase provider competencies in pain management and joins the APTA in its efforts to increase awareness of physical therapy as an effective intervention for managing persistent pain.