Physical therapists PPEDecember 16, 2020 2020-12-16 15:19
Physical therapists PPE
While many physical therapy units were closed during the earlier stages of the coronavirus pandemic, many have recently started to re-open. The prevalence of coronavirus means that PPE supplies become a necessity in medical settings that didn’t really previously require it. Physical therapists are some of those who have been affected by this change. So, what are some of the essential components of physical therapists PPE?
Face masks for physical therapists
Face masks have become a common sight in all kinds of situations since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. As such, it should be no surprise to hear that a medical face mask is an essential part of physical therapist PPE kits. Wearing a properly fitted medical face mask stops aerosols containing the virus from being transmitted, minimising the infection risk from both the therapist and their patient.
Gloves for physical therapists
Physical therapy is a close contact profession that requires bodily contact between therapist and patient. It’s difficult to impossible to assess precisely what’s wrong with a patient’s muscles or to correct their posture without touching them. This is the reason why medical gloves one of the most important items in the physical therapists PPE kit.
Medical or surgical gloves are most often associated with dentists, nurses or others who are likely to come into contact with patients’ bodily fluids during an examination. While this didn’t used to be a risk in physical therapy, the fact that coronavirus is transmitted by aerosols means that physical therapists should now protect their hands to minimise the spread of infection.
Nitrile gloves are recommended as part of physical therapists PPE kits. Nitrile gloves are thinner than other kinds of rubber gloves, allowing physical therapists to most effectively feel for any muscle or joint problems that need to be corrected. Nitrile gloves come with the benefit of tearing as soon as they have been breached, meaning that there won’t be a chance for infections to spread through any tiny, unnoticeable breaks in the barrier.
Nitrile also has the benefit of being safe to use when working with patients who have a latex allergy. While it is rare to be allergic to nitrile, please be aware that some people may be allergic to some of the chemical accelerators used in both natural and synthetic rubber glove manufacturing though this is rare.
Gowns for physical therapists PPE
The Association of the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) classifies medical gowns into four separate types:
1. Minimal risk. Used in most standard care units or medical facilities.
2. Low risk. Used in labs and intensive care units, or by staff running blood tests of any kind.
3. Moderate risk. Used when inserting IVs or dealing with trauma patients.
4. High risk. Used during surgeries or when administering fluid-intensive procedures.
The type of medical gown required as part of a physical therapists PPE kit will be dictated by what kind of physical therapy they administer and what settings they work in. Most types of physical therapy are likely to only require you to use a type 1 gown, but for those working in specific settings such as hospital wards or residential care homes, a higher gown type might be needed. It’s important to check your workplace’s standards when purchasing PPE to ensure that you have appropriate kit.
We can see that physical therapists PPE is vital, like all other health professionals, the need to have access to appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) in the workplace – for their own safety and for their patients’.