Promote a Greater “Health Span” for Your Patients

By Lynn Steffes, PT, DPT

As they age, our patients’ worries turn not only to the length of their lives but also to the quality of their lives. Physical therapy should be a big part of the new conversation about “health span” versus “life span.” As pointed out by Gregg Easterbrook in The Atlantic October 2014, “What Happens When We All Live to 100?” life expectancy in the United States has grown since 1840 from 47 years to 79 years. It is predicted that by 2100 it will be 100. “Indeed, the most exciting work being done in longevity science concerns making the later years vibrant, as opposed to simply adding time at the end.”1

Physical therapy remains one of the best solutions for addressing the need to stay active and vibrant as we age. We must emphasize that role as we educate our patients.

How can physical therapists begin the quality of life conversation with consumers? Use your functional outcome reporting tools or explore adding test items from the “Health-Related Quality of Life” (HRQOL) measure questions in your assessments That conversation can be an important strategy for marketing your therapy aftercare programs, wellness and fitness programs, and patient direct access for additional therapy at your clinic.

Some ideas might include offering:

  • Aftercare programs that help patients transition from therapy to fitness.
  • Automatic follow-up appointments for a “tune up.”
  • Fitness/wellness programs.
  • Fitness/wellness education via social media
  • Complimentary fitness/wellness lectures, classes, and educational tools.


Easterbrook, Gregg. The Atlantic. October 14. What Happens When We all Live to 100?


Lynn Steffes, PT, DPT, is president and consultant of Steffes & Associates, a national rehabilitation consulting group focused on marketing and program development for private practices nationwide. She is an instructor in five physical therapy programs and has actively presented, consulted, and taught in 40 states. She can be reached at

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