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MEDCoE physical therapy researchers published in the New England Journal of Medicine

By Jose Rodriguez | U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence Public Affairs | April 30, 2020

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —

A group of physical therapist researchers from the Army-Baylor University Doctoral Fellowship in Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy at Brooke Army Medical Center, a U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence, or MEDCoE, Graduate School hospital-based program, published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, or NEJM.

U.S. Army Col. (Dr.) Norman “Skip” Gill, MEDCoE Deputy Commandant, was part of the team that published a randomized controlled trial on the treatment of knee osteoarthritis, or OA.

The goal was to compare physical therapy to steroid injections in patients with knee OA. Patients with arthritis of the knee who underwent physical therapy had less pain and disability at one year than patients who received a steroid injection. Data for the study was collected since 2015.

“Knee OA is not just a retiree problem,” Gill said. “It is prevalent in the U.S. Army across active duty, Reserve, and National Guard Soldiers in the mid-to-senior grades after years of high impact activities and lower extremity injuries. It directly impacts the readiness of these Soldiers.

“The findings of our research highlight the importance of changing the conversation between providers and their patients to ensure patients with knee OA are offered the high benefit, low-risk physical therapy used in this clinical trial,” Gill added.

It is an enormous feat to publish an article in any peer-reviewed journal, and it is a “moon-shot” to publish in NEJM which is the pinnacle of peer-reviewed journals and rejects more than 95 percent of the submitted manuscripts.

Publishing an article in NEJM is a landmark professional feat for any scholar, and to have a group of PTs published in this journal is simply unheard of in the PT profession, as NEJM mainly publishes physician research. NEJM only publishes the highest quality, most rigorously conducted research with the greatest impact on medical care. It truly leads the world in academic medicine.

Along with Gill, the full research team members are retired U.S. Army Col. (Dr.) Gail Deyle, the lead author; retired U.S. Army Maj. (Dr.) Dan Rhon; U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Ben Hando; retired U.S. Army Maj. (Dr.) Evan Petersen; retired U.S. Army Maj. (Dr.) Chris Allen; and retired U.S. Army Col. (Dr.) Stephen Allison. The full NEJM article can be found at https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1905877?query=featured_home.