Physical Therapy Causes Permanent Injuries

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on October 2, 2017

Physical Therapy Expert WitnessThis case takes place in Maryland and involves a patient who presented to a physical therapist. The patient had injured her elbows at work and was having problems post-surgery. She was sent to a facility that started her on a weight lifting regimen. This regimen consisted of several weekly sessions that were several hours long, and included high intensity exercises with heavy weight. The patient complained of pain throughout the regimen but was made to continue. She now suffers from multiple orthopedic injuries that have severely impacted her quality of life.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you regularly treat patients in need of physical rehabilitation?
  • 2. Do you believe this patient would have had a better outcome if care rendered had been different?
  • 3. Have you ever worked as an expert witness on a case similar to the one described above?
  • 4. Please describe your experience with work hardening programs.

Expert Witness Response E-000327

I practice physical therapy in short-term rehabilitation settings for a large multi-site extended care corporation in the Baltimore metro area. The patient population is primarily middle-aged and seniors who have suffered either orthopedic, neurological, or complex medical conditions necessitating rehabilitation to restore their functional activities and mobility. Based upon the brief history provided, it is apparent that the care rendered was overly aggressive from the outset. I have been consulted as an expert witness previously with scenarios exactly as this one seems to be. In this case it appears there was an overly aggressive treatment, compounded by the treating therapist not listening or paying attention to the patient’s pain complaints during the actual therapy session – then not immediately taking corrective measures to relieve the patient. My professional experience has been quite varied, and includes positions in acute care hospitals, extended care facilities, outpatient P.T. and orthopedic practices. I owned and operated my own private physical therapy practice from 1994-2006. Since then, I have working for extended care facilities in their short-term rehabilitation departments. In addition to my professional experiences, I have been a lifetime fitness participant and have always used the scientifically based principles of fitness exercises in combination with my therapy techniques. I am familiar with work simulation approach used in the rehabilitation of injured workers.

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