The national Veteran population is aging, calling for innovative health care practices and specialized health care professionals. One such specialized health care provider is Dr. Roslyn Burton, clinical specialist in Geriatric Physical Therapy, certified exercise expert for aging adults and certified Tai Chi for Health instructor.

Physical therapy is a profoundly important practice in caring for Veterans. It serves as an alternative to surgery, prevents injury, increases mobility, reduces pain and restores independence. This is especially true for our aging Veteran population, 65 years old and over.

“Veterans are a special group, giving us insight and foresight because they are where we eventually hope to be,” Burton said. “I want to be the best physical therapist I can be for our aging Veterans.”

Physical Therapy Month logo

National Physical Therapy month is celebrated to encourage awareness of the benefits physical therapy has on treating chronic or acute pain.

Programs like Burton’s, with tai chi and individualized physical therapy plans, are critical to the overall health and well being of aging Veterans.

Focusing on the special needs of aging Veterans

Burton took a unique route in becoming a board-certified clinical specialist in geriatric physical therapy. That’s an achievement only one percent of licensed physical therapists obtain.

Burton first practiced as a traveling physical therapist in various clinical settings for six years. Then she entered a clinical residency program at Cincinnati VA, following the geriatric track.

Through the residency program there, she trained with master geriatric clinicians and other clinical specialists. She found that geriatric patients often have unique and complex medical concerns that must be considered when delivering care.

Tai Chi for Whole Health

Burton also supports the Whole Health initiative at Central Alabama VA, implementing a Tai Chi for Whole Health program for Veterans. The program is not only for Veterans 65 years or older, it’s for any Veteran who wants to participate in this whole health, mind-body type of exercise.

“Hearing from Veterans how tai chi and other physical therapy techniques aid in mind-body improvement and pain management is rewarding,” she said.

VA celebrates our physical therapists and the programs that support educational and career opportunities for them at during National Physical Therapy Month. VA facilitates developing therapy practices through clinical training programs and fellowships in affiliation with individual health professions schools and colleges. And it’s VA’s Office of Academic Affiliations that manages these training opportunities. It offers accredited programs in more than 40 professions, including geriatric physical therapy.

Passion to learn. Power to heal.

VA conducts its training programs for more than 120,000 health professions trainees annually. It works in affiliation with over 1,800 educational institutions across the country, including 97% of United States medical colleges.

These academic affiliations are coordinated by VA’s Office of Academic Affiliations. Find out more by visiting its website and by watching this video.

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