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#5 - Medical specialists report that patients with back

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Complete Question Explanation

Resolve the Paradox. The correct answer choice is (B)

The stimulus contains an apparent paradox. Medical specialists report that patients with back muscle injuries who receive a treatment combination of drugs and physical therapy do only as well as those who receive a treatment of just physical therapy alone. However, the specialists claim that the drugs are a necessary part of treatment for “all patients who receive them” for back muscle injuries. If patients ultimately respond to the different treatments with the same outcome, then why are the drugs necessary?

The question stem, in asking you to reconcile the statements, essentially asks you to explain why the drugs are necessary for those who get them.

Answer choice (A): This answer states that there are only two courses of treatment for back muscle injuries: physical therapy alone of drugs and physical therapy. But this fact fails to explain why the drugs are necessary for those who receive them.

Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice. According to this answer, the specialists can accurately determine who needs just physical therapy, and who needs both drugs and therapy. In other words, when the drugs are prescribed, those patients need those drugs (perhaps some injuries are worse, and in those instances the drugs help with the treatment). Accordingly, as this answer shows why the drugs are necessary when they are prescribed, this is the correct answer.

Answer choice (C): Although this answer shows that some injuries are healed by drugs and therapy, it does not show why the drugs were needed. Essentially, this answer avoids addressing the paradox of why the physical therapy treatment patients fared just as well as the physical therapy and drug treatment patients.

Answer choice (D): While this answer shows that the drugs can assist in healing some patients, the answer does not explain why the two groups of patients generally have the same outcome, and why the drugs are necessary when they are prescribed.

Answer choice (E): The stimulus is focused on back muscle injuries and does not concern “injuries to other muscles.” Even if the “other muscles” are accepted as analogous (which is not unreasonable), the remainder of this answer actually confuses the issue by showing that the drug and physical therapy treatment patients fared better than the patients who received just physical therapy.
netherlands
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Is "B" really a resolution? To me it can off as a reassurance that what the specialists were doing was correct and valid for some reason - but doesn't explain why or how, both physical therapy alone was necessary in some cases and pt and drugs were necessary in others. Or how both had an equal effect in healing individuals.
Steve Stein
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Good question. In that one, as you know, the apparent discrepancy lies in the fact that the patients who get drugs and physical therapy seem to do about as well as the patients who just get physical therapy.

The paradox is that it seems there is no advantage to adding medication to the mix; the people who are only doing physical therapy are doing as well as those doing physical therapy and taking medicine!

We might otherwise expect for those getting drugs in addition to PT to be doing better than those getting PT alone--yet they all do about equally well.

But what if they didn't all start out equal? That is what the correct answer provides: if those patients didn't start out in one big random group, but rather were prescribed the treatments they needed, that would separate them into two groups--those who needed only PT, and those who needed PT and medication. That would help explain why they all ended up equally well--they were separated to begin with, based on their respective needs.

I hope that's helpful! Please let me know whether this is clear--thanks!

~Steve
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netherlands
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Hm... well I definitely understand and saw that paradox. Maybe I was just expecting and am more used to an illustrative reason - for example, I feel like an answer choice normally tells why one group is different from the other which warrants the combination for some and not for the other.

I was looking for an answer that would tell us something like " some with muscle injuries
have anxiety problems that otherwise would make them less perceptible to the benefits of therapy" ... or something that made the two sets descriptively different in some way. Something like that could tell us why drugs were necessary for some but they still had equal improvement


Which is why "D" was attractive to me - those "additional" drugs didn't necessarily provide an "additional" benefit, but solved an additional issues that some individuals with muscle injuries may have. Once the aggravation was cleared by medication - we could assume that they continued on with physical therapy and achieved equal improvement as those who never had the drugs.

Reading your explanation does make since but --- I don't know, I just feel like answer choice "B" is a given - and could still leave me asking ... "why?" - and wondering what were the circumstances that made these judgements and the paradoxical consequences possible?
Steve Stein
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Hey Netherlands,

Thanks for your response. Be careful when dealing with Resolve questions--keep in mind that the answer choice will be the one that is consistent with both seemingly paradoxical premises--not one that will necessarily match your prephrase.

What are the paradoxical premises in this case? That some patients get just pt, and some get pt and medication, yet they all end up around the same level of wellbeing.

And what is the correct answer choice? The one that provides that they have been prescribed their needed treatments--this is (i) consistent with the premise that some have just p.t., and some have p.t. + medication, and (ii) consistent with the idea that they all end up equally ok.

I hope that's helpful! Please let me know whether this seems any clearer--thanks!

~Steve
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est15
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Hi, I'm not sure why D is incorrect. My thinking was that the drugs ameliorate the aggravations caused by improper attempts at physical therapy so that these patients who had both drugs and physical therapy are at the same level of recovery as the patients who only received physical therapy. Therefore, the drugs are necessary for all patients who receive them (as stated in sentence 2) since only those who need them get them, and the patients who received a combination of drugs and physical therapy do only as well as those who receive physical therapy alone (as stated in sentence 1). Doesn't that reconcile the medical specialists' two claims?
Ron Gore
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Hi Est,

You ask why answer choice (D) is incorrect. That answer choice tells us about some injuries that have been successfully treated with drugs. However, it doesn't necessarily tell us about all back muscle injuries that are treated with drugs. It deals with the wrong group. We need additional information about all of those patients with back muscle injuries who need drugs, rather than information about those patients whose back muscles injuries have been aggravated by improper attempts at physical therapy.

Answer choice (B) provides this information, talking about the back muscle injury patients who need drugs, not just those who need drugs because their injuries have been aggravated by improper attempts at physical therapy.

Please let me know if I can be of further help.

Thanks,

Ron
saharsh
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I am confused with option B. If the doctors can figure out which kind of therapy is given to patient i.e pt and med or pt only, and then he only prescribes pt only. How does this mean that drugs are necessary for All patients
Kristina Moen
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Hi saharsh, welcome to the Forum!

Careful with the wording. The stimulus say that "drugs are a necessary part of the treatment of all patients who receive them for back muscle injuries." So it's not that drugs are necessary for all patients, but only those who received them for their back muscle injuries.

It might help if we think of individuals within the groups.

Joe gets medication and PT for his back, and he heals just as well as Susan, who only got PT. But the doctor says that Joe needed the medication. Why? Perhaps their baselines were different! Answer choice (B) reconciles this paradox by saying that the dr knew that Joe would need PT and medication, and that Susan would need PT alone. So the fact that they had the same result does not mean that medication is unnecessary.

To go back to the stimulus - do not make the mistake of assuming this is a random sample where some people were randomly selected to receive PT and some were randomly selected to receive PT and medication. We only know that those who received PT and medication did only as well as those who received PT. Answer choice (B) reconciles the paradox by basically explaining that the patients were NOT randomly selected, and the doctors were able to accurately judge who would need PT alone and who would need PT and medication.

Hope this helps!
saharsh
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Kristina Moen wrote:Hi saharsh, welcome to the Forum!

Careful with the wording. The stimulus say that "drugs are a necessary part of the treatment of all patients who receive them for back muscle injuries." So it's not that drugs are necessary for all patients, but only those who received them for their back muscle injuries.

It might help if we think of individuals within the groups.

Joe gets medication and PT for his back, and he heals just as well as Susan, who only got PT. But the doctor says that Joe needed the medication. Why? Perhaps their baselines were different! Answer choice (B) reconciles this paradox by saying that the dr knew that Joe would need PT and medication, and that Susan would need PT alone. So the fact that they had the same result does not mean that medication is unnecessary.

To go back to the stimulus - do not make the mistake of assuming this is a random sample where some people were randomly selected to receive PT and some were randomly selected to receive PT and medication. We only know that those who received PT and medication did only as well as those who received PT. Answer choice (B) reconciles the paradox by basically explaining that the patients were NOT randomly selected, and the doctors were able to accurately judge who would need PT alone and who would need PT and medication.

Hope this helps!


Thank you so much.