Walk With Ease Teams Up With PT Schools To Get Communities Walking

Physical therapy curriculum helps students learn how to guide patients toward daily movement by using the Arthritis Foundation’s Walk With Ease program. 

Movement is one of the easiest ways for patients to improve their health, reduce pain and relieve stress. For physical therapists, getting their patients moving safely can speed recovery and increase mobility. But often, patients feel uncertain how to incorporate daily activity into their routine when even small movements cause discomfort.

As part of a new physical therapy curriculum at Springfield College in Massachusetts, students learn how to guide patients toward daily movement by using a proven program — the Arthritis Foundation’s Walk With Ease. The Walk With Ease program safely teaches participants how to make physical activity part of their everyday life. With comprehensive studies demonstrating that Walk With Ease reduces pain, increases balance and strength and improves overall health, patients can benefit greatly from participating in the program.

A new student coaching guide, developed through a grant from the CDC, teaches physical therapy students how to serve as coaches for Walk With Ease programs in their communities. Student coaches learn how to engage with patients and guide them in taking small steps each day to become more active. This new coaching guide is aimed at integrating population health within the curriculum in a clinical learning experience.

“The Arthritis Foundation’s Walk with Ease program is an effective, evidence-based program that can make a difference in people's lives," says Anita Bemis-Dougherty, PT, DPT, MAS, vice president of practice at the American Physical Therapy Association. “This coaching guide is an innovative way to weave important population health concepts into a physical therapy education curriculum through an approach that can directly help communities in the here-and-now.”

Springfield College’s new guide covers need-to-know concepts, including population health, motivational interviewing and models of behavior change. It also includes weekly scripts and guidance for students. Supported by the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD), this new coaching guide is expected to be used by other physical therapy programs in the future.

“The student coaching manual is an excellent tool for embedding an evidence-based intervention like the Arthritis Foundation Walk With Ease program into a curriculum, while also expanding and sustaining delivery and dissemination,” says John W. Robitscher, MPH, CEO of NACDD.

Educators interested in using the newly developed coaching guide can register through the Springfield College Walk With Ease Hub. The hub provides guidance to physical therapy educators who want to start a Walk With Ease student coaching program and offers materials and technical support. — Heidi Bragg

Stay in the Know. Live in the Yes.

Get involved with the arthritis community. Tell us a little about yourself and, based on your interests, you’ll receive emails packed with the latest information and resources to live your best life and connect with others.