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Should PTs be called "Dr."

 
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Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 7, 2005 9:18:00 AM   
wjhanney

 

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I have recently completed my transitional DPT and have come across questions related this degree. I would like to share my thoughts and see what others have to say.

Students and Colleagues ask now that I've earned the doctoral degree will I begin to refer to myself as "Dr. Hanney". This is a multifactoral questions and many considerations must be had.

1. First is the scope and depth of PT practice equivelant to a doctoral level of practice? I believe it is. Particularly compared to other doctorally prepared professionals including, pharmacists, Chiropractors, Optometrics, Psychologists, etc. I believe a big part of having the doctoral title is not only the degree but the composure one adheres to. PTs will command the doctoral title if they present themself as a doctor. I teach continuing education courses and often have chiropractors in attendance. All to often I see my PT colleagues in what I would consider excessively casual dress while chiropractors consistently are dressed as professionals attending a professional meeting.

2. Considerations for my co-workers and colleagues. At this time none of the other staff physical therapists I work with hold the "DPT" degree. Does this mean my skills are better than theirs? Certainly not! But referring to myself as Doctor would provide a lot of confusion for the patients treated in our facility.

3. Legal implications. At this point the licensing credential for the physical therapist is "PT" unlike that for chiropractors which is "DC" or doctor of chiropractic. In time when the vast majority of PTs hold the DPT degree argument for a change in licensure designation can be made to DPT. At that time the doctoral title would not simply be an academic title but a licensing title.

Therefore, at this time, I do not refer to myself or expect others to refer to me as "Dr." Perhaps in the future this may change but it must come with a change in attitude, composure, and law.

Thanks
Post #: 1
Re: Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 7, 2005 5:16:00 PM   
Andrew M. Ball PT PhD

 

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I agree with your thoughts. I will be finish up my t-DPT next term and agree with the APTA position that, while certainly legal, it may be unwise. For me, even with my PhD, it's environmentally and situationally dependent.

Drew

_____________________________

Andrew M. Ball, PT, DPT, Ph.D.
Orthopedic Physical Therapy Resident
Carolinas Rehabilitation

(in reply to wjhanney)
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Re: Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 11, 2005 11:22:00 AM   
BRuchin

 

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I agree. I am finishing my MSPT now and will continue on for my t-DPT.

I do not plan to use the Dr. title except for dinner reservations, and that is what my daughter's boyfriends will call me!!!!

I do aagree with wjhanney and we need to be more professional as a whole.

(in reply to wjhanney)
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Re: Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 11, 2005 11:52:00 AM   
Andrew M. Ball PT PhD

 

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We need to keep in mind, however, that the DPT is still in fact an EARNED clinical doctorate, and that while unwise in certain situations (e.g. don't irritate a referring MD . . .) it will be equally unwise to allow for our profession to proceed to being all clinical doctors --- without any of us actually being called doctor in the clinic.

Drew

_____________________________

Andrew M. Ball, PT, DPT, Ph.D.
Orthopedic Physical Therapy Resident
Carolinas Rehabilitation

(in reply to wjhanney)
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Re: Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 11, 2005 12:33:00 PM   
OaksPT

 

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On a side note, maybe somebody can answer this for me.
When seeing job vacancies at the university level, and they advertise a position with qualifications as and eaned doctorate, can somebody tell me what that actually means. Is it DPT, PHD,or DscPT? or only PHD.
Thanks
Scott

_____________________________

Scott Oaks PT,DPT

(in reply to wjhanney)
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Re: Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 11, 2005 1:44:00 PM   
BRuchin

 

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OaksPT, to teach from what i understand, it needs to be Ph.D. DSc i think would work too, but DPT and DSc are clinical doctorates and not research based.

That is what i have been told. some schools want DPTs and will help you get your Ph.D.

A.Ball

I agree with you, but we cannot begin to be called doctor till we are all at that level.

Bryan

(in reply to wjhanney)
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Re: Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 13, 2005 10:20:00 AM   
dosrinc

 

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wjhanney writes "At this point, none of the other therapists I work with hold the title of DPT does this mean my skills are better than theirs, certainly not!"
I would be inclined to disagree.
I know that I would certainly have found myself very frustrated if after completing my two year post graduate DPT program I had not improved my skills to the point that I remained no different than those who had not undergone the same intensive training and examination.
You have done the work, you deserve the title!

(in reply to wjhanney)
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Re: Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 17, 2005 6:49:00 AM   
wjhanney

 

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Rick,

I see your point. There are ,however, some amazing therapists who do not hold a doctoral title and have amazing skills. Kevin Wilk and Brian Mulligan are two that come to mind. The DPT is an academic degree but does not take the place of experience and practice.

Regarding the terminal degree for the academic world . . . It has been explained to me in a progressive manner. The DPT is the terminal clinical degree while the PhD is the terminal academic degree. While the DPT degree in and of itself will not prepare a student to produce high quality original research it is not to say these skills cannot be developed elsewhere, perhaps a post doc program. I would compare this to a physician who works in the research realm without a PhD. A MD can choose to go through a post doc training program to learn research skills.

As the profession develops I see this happening. Academic appointments will not only be based on educational requirments but scholorly activity. It has been said Directors of PT programs count dtwo things . . number of publications, and number of publications.

Thanks,

(in reply to wjhanney)
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Re: Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 21, 2005 2:48:00 PM   
Andrew M. Ball PT PhD

 

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wjhanney,

There are several errors of fact in your post that we should probably address before the dialoge continues:

First, the DPT is a clinical degree, not an academic degree (I assume that you simply made a typo), and not even terminal clinical degree at that --- a DScPT is the terminal clinical degree in the profession of physical therapy. A DPT, by contrast, is simply an entry level degree that denotes entry-level competence with what the profession now considers to be entry-level skills that every therapist should know upon graduation into initial practice --- namely the addition of differential diagnosis and radiographic imaging skills --- where PT's who graduated more than 5 years ago and haven't taken up either a DPT program or CEU's in these regards are (despite experience and advanced technical abilities) deficient with respect to what is currently considered to denote the ever-rising entry-level expectation. You're right in saying that the DPT doesn't replace experience, but it's also true that experience doesn't replace the need for experienced clinicians to patch the holes in their substandard abilities with respect to those skills that, while not included in their education years ago, are now considered entry-level criticals. The tDPT degree is the vehicle for experienced PT's to achieve BOTH experience AND full competence with what is now considered entry-level skills.

Second, you mention Kevin Wilk as an example of a great clinician and clinical educator who doesn't have a doctorate. I tend to agree. It may, however, interest you to know that he is a classmate of mine at the MGH Intitute of Health Professions (a Harvard affiliate), and (unless he's taken a leave of absence as I have before gearing up to finish the final course) should complete his DPT within the next few months.

Finally, there are several paths for faculty to follow upon hire. While it is true that programs housed in the research institutions focus upon peer-reviewed publication, scholarship entails much more than that. Peer-reviewed presentations, case studies, and single subject designs all fall into that category, and are all areas of research that the average DPT can contribute. Getting back to the point, however, the tenure track for academic professors, and the tenure track for clinical professors is different and the three prongs (research, service, and teaching) are weighted and defined differently. The reality of the DPT in academia is that in a few years, like the BSPT's who were shut out upon the new wave of MSPT's --- so will be the MSPT's giving way to DPT's as clinical faculty. Requirements and expectations for 5-10 years of clinical practice, a few certifications, and an APTA specialization --- before walking in the door of the ivory tower --- aren't likely to change.

Dr. Andrew M. Ball, PT, DPT(c), PhD, MBA

_____________________________

Andrew M. Ball, PT, DPT, Ph.D.
Orthopedic Physical Therapy Resident
Carolinas Rehabilitation

(in reply to wjhanney)
Post #: 9
Re: Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 21, 2005 11:40:00 PM   
Randy Dixon

 

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I have a question similar to Scott's, I have seen several university positions in health sciences that state PhD or ABD. I don't know what ABD is, I was guessing it had something to do with clinical credentials since I've only noticed them in the health science field.

(in reply to wjhanney)
Post #: 10
Re: Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 22, 2005 9:27:00 AM   
Andrew M. Ball PT PhD

 

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ABD stands for "All But Dissertation" it is someone who has completed all of their doctoral coursework and completed their comps; but has not yet proposed, collected their data, put together their 200 or so page manuscript, and/or defended their research in front of the academic "Jedi Council."

You may also see some ABD's use "PhD(c)" to describe their status --- meaning PhD candidate who's far enough into the dissertation process that they think they're about ready to be finished and are simply trying to get the academic world aware of their soon-to-be-bona-fide-doctor status.

Technically, doctoral students shouldn't be using either designation, as neither are really degrees or certifications --- so much as a wishful expectation of a future degree. Considering that only 80% of people who ever start a PhD end up finishing, and that only about 50% of those who do nail their dissertation defense on the first try --- the terms ABD or PhD(c), outside of a job listing, serve to be more to demonstrate the lack of academic maturity on the part of the doctoral student than anything else (speaking, of course, as someone who trumpeted PhD(c) once I achieved the ABD status . . .).

Anyway, I feel that while some tDPT students refer to themselves as "doctoral candiates" or "DPT(c)," (myself included), it really is being used inappropriately considering that tDPT programs don't generally require a dissertation.

Finally, a word of advice to those those handfuls of entry-level kids who, egos inflated and heads in the sand, insist on being respected as and called "doctoral candidates" without a clue or conception of what a candidate for an academic doctorate really is, and fail to realize that there is no such thing as a medical doctoral candidate, dentistry doctoral candidate, or chiropratic doctoral candidate. Physical therapy student or physical therapy intern is still most appropriate in the clinic. Despite what some may consider a gruff cyber-space exterior, my colleagues generally consider me an easy guy to get along with --- always willing to help with respect to clinical, administrative, or research issues --- and despite an academic doctorate, generally ask everyone to drop the pretense of Dr. Ball and just call me, "Drew."

A student working with me may be able to get away with doctoral student, but students who introduce themselves as a "doctoral candidate" to this PT/PhD with a nearly completed DPT in my clinic on the first day of a clinical internship, get a talking to. If it happens a second time, it's considered insubordination and they get a call to the ACCE and their walking papers shown (if not handed to them) as it's generally a warning sign of a truly uncontrollable wet-nosed student to come. Fortunately, I've only had to dismiss one DPT doctoral candidate who didn't have her over-inflated ego in check.

Drew

_____________________________

Andrew M. Ball, PT, DPT, Ph.D.
Orthopedic Physical Therapy Resident
Carolinas Rehabilitation

(in reply to wjhanney)
Post #: 11
Re: Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 24, 2005 10:53:00 AM   
dosrinc

 

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Dr. Ball, your assertion that the DPT "is simply an entry level degree that denotes entry level competence with what the profession now considers entry level skills- namely the addition of differential diagnosis and radiographic imaging skills" may be an accurate description of the DPT program you are currently enrolled in but is certainly not an accurate description of the one I completed. There are many and varied DPT programs available, some entry level, others post graduate, some requiring dissertation (mine did) and others only a case study or dissertation proposal, ect.. Some DPT programs include residency training, (mine did), others can be completed almost entirely on line. Your generalization of the DPT degree is simply inaccurate.

(in reply to wjhanney)
Post #: 12
Re: Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 24, 2005 7:28:00 PM   
Andrew M. Ball PT PhD

 

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Rick,

Sorry to offend. I'd hold by my comments --- but I will clarify. I am talking about DPT programs, which are to say transitional DPT programs, and NOT post-professional DPT programs (most of which are now called DScPT programs). The first few DPT programs were in fact post-professional, but most of these programs have converted to DScPT notation and post-professional DPT programs nowadays are few and far between.

There is no such thing as a DPT program that awards anything other than an entry-level degree to a person who is not yet a physical therapist. While some of these programs do have independent research requirements and clinical residency, it's a far cry from an academic doctorate. There are a few that require residency training --- but the fact remains that the degree awarded is still what is considered current entry-level skill. As such, if you're talking about having graduated from a program of study that awarded you your first professional degree, then I'm not sure what you're trying to say. Despite the accomplishment, "entry-level" is baked right in to an "entry-level" or DPT program that serves as one's first physical therapy degree. That's not "advanced" by any stretch.

I'd refer you to the APTA FAQ on the subject:

Is the DPT (transition) just another professional (entry-level) degree?

Yes and no. It is analogous to the entry-level DPT degree in that the majority of transition program curricula include coursework that reflects the augmentation in professional (entry-level) content that has occurred over the past 5-10 years. Put differently, the DPT (transition) is fully consistent with the current professional DPT standard; it does NOT indicate the acquisition of advanced clinical knowledge, skills, and behaviors beyond that standard.

While the DPT (transition) is most analogous the current professional DPT:

The program offers content in areas that have been significantly augmented over the past 5-10 years,

Experienced PTs may augment their knowledge and skills in areas that, together with any specialized knowledge and experience acquired over the years, would position them more strongly as a provider in a health care system that is often characterized as uncertain and competitive.

A DPT (transition) program is a valuable and exciting context for learning, including the rich and diverse interactions between PTs whose respective experiences provide an invaluable source of shared learning.

A DPT (transition) curriculum can be customized to particular learners based on their knowledge and experience thereby minimizing the prospects for duplication of content. One way of documenting that knowledge and experience is through APTA's Physical Therapist Evaluation Tool.

A DPT (transition) program is not "just another" professional (entry-level) education experience because the learning context, including the learner' s experience and discourse, reflects a breadth and depth of experience that cannot be present in a professional degree program with students who have no clinical experience.


THAT SAID . . .

Some people (Mike Voigt, DPT, for example) earned one of the first DPT's and did a little different course of study than current transitional DPT students. The post-professional DPT is a little different, and considered not a transitional degree, but an advanced clinical doctorate. Most (but not all -- there are one or two exceptions) of these programs have converted to DScPT programs so as to avoid confusion of nomenclature). Again, I'd refer you to the APTA's FAQ on the subject:

What's the difference between the DPT (transition) and an advanced clinical doctorate?

The DPT (transition) degree does not reflect the acquisition of advanced clinical skills (eg, specialization); rather, it reflects an augmentation in the physical therapist professional body of knowledge and practice over the last 5-10 years. The outcome competencies of the graduate of a DPT (transition) program are most analogous to those of the current professional (entry-level) DPT standard. The postprofessional advanced clinical doctorate (DScPT) reflects the acquisition of advanced level knowledge and skills associated with specialization, certification, clinical residencies, fellowships, etc.

Rick, sounds like your DPT is either entry-level in which this is truly a silly discussion, or you might want to contact the program that you graduated from and ask if older graduates have been grandfathered from the DPT designation to the DScPT designation. I believe that both University of Maryland (DScPT) and Rocky Mountain University (DHSc), for example, have made this transition --- but I'm not yet aware of any grandfathering.

Hope that helps clear up any confusion.

Drew

_____________________________

Andrew M. Ball, PT, DPT, Ph.D.
Orthopedic Physical Therapy Resident
Carolinas Rehabilitation

(in reply to wjhanney)
Post #: 13
Re: Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 25, 2005 6:55:00 AM   
dosrinc

 

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Drew, no offense taken, simply trying to clarify, I participated in the first and one of the very few classes of Ola Grimsby's 2 year post professional DPT programs. This program was originally an MOMT program and has since been changed again. I was awarded a DPT apon completion of the program, passing of the examinations and defense of my dissertation. It was an exceptional learning experience and has enhanced my career exponentially. As far as I know there is still a DPT available from the Grimsby institute that is only available to post professionals. I am sure that the profession and the public will continue to experience confusion with these titles over the next several years until all of the transistions are complete. I currently end my documentation with

Eric E. Douglass, PT, DPT, OCS

in attempt to emphasize that my DPT is not entry level, not that it really matters to anyone but me. Thanks for all of the insight

Rick

(in reply to wjhanney)
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Re: Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 25, 2005 1:23:00 PM   
Andrew M. Ball PT PhD

 

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Eric,

You may want to press Ola Grimbsy about changing the DPT program to a DScPT program (which in my opinion would be more accurate). Also, I've seen a few programs U of MD being one of them, move from DPT, to PPDPT, to DScPT. Maybe PPDPT would be appropriate for you to use now . . .

Drew

_____________________________

Andrew M. Ball, PT, DPT, Ph.D.
Orthopedic Physical Therapy Resident
Carolinas Rehabilitation

(in reply to wjhanney)
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Re: Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 25, 2005 4:33:00 PM   
wjhanney

 

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Drew,

I've heard of the DHSc and the DScPT and realize the are advance clinical degrees. It seems odd to have an advanced "clinical doctorate" to my knowledge there is no advanced clinical doctorate for any other profession. A MD is the terminal degree in that field . . . there is no advance clinical doctorate for the medical clinician. Professionals typically get advanced clinical training via residency programs not by earning more degrees.

Is the profession further confusing both the public and many within our own profession?

Thanks WJH

(in reply to wjhanney)
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Re: Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 25, 2005 7:07:00 PM   
Andrew M. Ball PT PhD

 

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WJH,

There are, in fact terminal degrees in other clinical professions --- only they are not usually called advanced clinical doctorates. Nurses have CRNA's (nurse anesthesia), NP's (pracitioners) and even DCN's (doctors of clinical nursing). MD's and DO's generally do fellowships in speciality areas, DC's have 3 year post-graduate diplomates in radiology, orthopedics and rehab.

We've had advanced master's degrees for physical therapists for quite some time, and in general, many have converted to being DScPT by adding in DPT expectations and courswork to their programs.

The difference between (D)PT's, DC's, and on the other hand MD's, is that (D)PT's and DC's are permitted to practice and present themselves as experts in areas where a post-professional degree or clinical residency hasn't been obtained. I understand why with limited man(or woman) power this may be the case among PT's, especially given the short professional life-span of PT's relative to other professions --- but as someone who completed a year-long clinical fellowship program in developmental pediatrics --- it's more than a little annoying to hear someone refer to themselves as a pediatric-expert simply because they've done nothing else since graduation.

It's all about standards within the profession --- don't you think it's time we had some?

Drew

_____________________________

Andrew M. Ball, PT, DPT, Ph.D.
Orthopedic Physical Therapy Resident
Carolinas Rehabilitation

(in reply to wjhanney)
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Re: Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 25, 2005 9:06:00 PM   
tc

 

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Drew, a bit off topic, but where did you do your clinical fellowship in peds? I haven't heard of any program like this other than the DScPT at RMU. And was it similar to general coursework in development, like if someone was getting a masters in that subject or was it specific to PT?
-tc

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Re: Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 26, 2005 5:06:00 AM   
Andrew M. Ball PT PhD

 

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TC,

There are 35 interdisciplinary fellowship programs in neurodevelopmental pediatrics funded by the federal Department of Maternal and Child Health. The fellowship that I did was called a LEND fellowship (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disability). Although these programs have been around for quite some time (the 1960's), and PT's have been accepted for part-time trainingships, it has only been since the mid-1990's that physical therapists were accepted for full-time year-long fellowships. In fact, I've been told that I was the among the first --- if not the first --- PT fellow at any of the UCD's.

These programs used to be called UAP's, or "University Affiliated Programs" but changed their name in the late 1990's to UCD's or "University Centers on Disability." There is an online directory at http://www.aucd.org/.

Toby Long, PT, PhD did a great article a few years back in PT Magazine about the program at Georgetown and how it incorporated responsibilities in teaching, research, community service, clincial residency, and didactic education. Briefly, my program at University of Rochester provided opportunity to teach as an adjunct lab instructor for Ithaca college; become involved in research examining how mercury levels impact neurodevelopment in children in the Republic of Seychells, examine and publish on the subject of meta-analysis in developmental disabilty research; perform systems research for the early intervention system; provide care for and receive mentorship from clinical mentors who were NDT certified and/or continuing education instructors with respect to pediatric CST and MFR while in settings ranging from neurodevelopmental preschools to the inpatient NICU and PICU; and finally, I had to take an interdisciplinary core course once per week with the other fellows.

The program was EXCELLENT and certainly helped in gaining entry into a PhD program a few years later.

Drew

I've heard of graduates of such programs adding FUCD to their business cards, but it seems a bit strange to me for obvious reasons, and certainly few people would know what a fellow of a UCD actually is.

_____________________________

Andrew M. Ball, PT, DPT, Ph.D.
Orthopedic Physical Therapy Resident
Carolinas Rehabilitation

(in reply to wjhanney)
Post #: 19
Re: Should PTs be called "Dr." - January 26, 2005 11:03:00 AM   
USAPT

 

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I agree that there is a misunderstanding and confusion with the designations and what they are to mean. If we, PTs, are this confused, remember that our pts. have no clue or probably care for that matter. I completed my entry level DPT from Univ St. Augustine few years ago. I speak to a few classmates and they 'demand' to be called Dr. I disagree with that entirely.
This is my opinion on the matter: so I have this piece of paper that calls me Dr, however, I don't possess the appropriate clinical skills and expertise to feel comfortable with a pt. calling me that, nor have I ever demanded it. Just call me 'Jason' is what I ask them to do. On a lighter note.. upon calling an MD office or case manager I have noticed I get POCs and calls returned quicker if I ask them to call me (Dr. ___) back. Just thought I would contribute to the mayhem:)

_____________________________

Jason, PT
Board Certified Orthopaedic Specialist

(in reply to wjhanney)
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