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Transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.

—APTA Vision Statement10

Physical therapists have long been advocates for prevention, health promotion, and wellness. They not only work with patients in a rehabilitation environment, but also have the opportunity to work with clients to improve fitness, wellness, and overall health.7,58 Their roles include education, direct intervention, research, advocacy, and collaborative consultation, as well as identification of risk factors and provision of services to mitigate those risks,8 thus helping to improve the health of populations and bridge the gap between illness and wellness for individuals. Physical therapists and physical therapist assistants also work within their communities to influence and advocate for adapting environments to promote healthy lifestyles for all. In these ways, they can achieve the profession’s vision of “transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.”10

Key Terms and Concepts

Health. “A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”116 “A state of being associated with freedom from disease, injury, and illness that also includes a positive component (wellness) that is associated with a quality of life and positive well-being.”6

Health promotion. “Any effort taken to allow an individual, group, or community to achieve awareness of—and empowerment to pursue—prevention and wellness.”6

Health-related quality of life. “A broad multidimensional concept that usually includes self-reported measures of physical and mental health.”27

Personal health literacy. “The degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.”108

Physical literacy. “The motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge, and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.”56

Population health. “The health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.”62

Public health. “The science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities.”23

Social determinants of health. “The factors apart from medical care that can be influenced by social policies and shape health in powerful ways;”22 “conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.”109

Wellness. “A state of being that incorporates all facets and dimensions of human existence, including physical health, emotional health, spirituality, and social connectivity.”6 “An active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.”74

Well-being. “A positive outcome that is meaningful for people and for many sectors of society, because it tells us that people perceive that their lives are going well.”33...

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