Cardiovascular assessment in the orthopaedic practice setting

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As consumer access to physical therapy practice expands, it is important that physical therapists are familiar with and implementing accepted methods of identifying the cardiovascular status of their clients. Established guidelines for assessing cardiovascular risk prior to initiating aerobic exercise programs are available and can be readily adopted by physical therapists in diverse clinical settings. We have provided a process for integrating existing guidelines into clinical practice. Because little evidence exists regarding the clinical behaviors and knowledge of orthopedic physical therapists in the area of cardiovascular risk, we conducted a survey to assess current practice patterns. The results suggest that orthopedic physical therapists are performing cardiovascular screening at frequencies similar to other components of the history and systems review, but that monitoring baseline or exercising vital signs does not occur with every exercise session.

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