Physical therapists work with many kinds of patients.
What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy (PT) is also known as physiotherapy. In this health care profession, physical therapists help patients recover from disabilities and impairments in order to improve life quality, mobility, and functional ability. The process follows the general steps of “examination, evaluation, diagnosis, and physical intervention”. Physical therapy assistants (PTA) also help with this kind of rehabilitation. Licensing and requirements vary by state. Physical therapy work not only includes clinical practice, but education, consultation, administration, and research. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is in charge of the accreditation of PT educational curricula. Physical therapy can also be used in conjunction with other medical rehabilitation and occupational therapy. Patients of all ages can receive physical therapy, including newborns and the elderly. Diagnosis may incorporate “electrodiagnostic testing” (e.g., nerve conduction velocity, EMGs). Treatment consists of specific exercises, education, manipulation, and manual therapy. Physical therapists can also help patients to prevent mobility loss through wellness and fitness programs. Physical therapists may work in a variety of settings, such as nursing facilities, private homes, outpatient clinics, or rehabilitation hospitals. They may also work in schools, offices, fitness centers, sports facilities, and hospices.1
Training and Work in Physical Therapy
Students may take courses at physical therapy schools to train as a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant. From there, physical therapists can work in a variety of settings, including for a service such as Select Physical Therapy. This service “is part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division” which provides “outpatient physical rehabilitation”. Select Physical Therapy, and other brand names, provide a network of centers throughout the country.2 Physical therapists could also join the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), which provides a variety of resources, networking opportunities, and educational information.3 Education for a physical therapist may “culminate in a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree”, but some hold a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. The physical therapy curricula include clinical sciences training as well as learning how to screen, examine, evaluate, diagnose, and provide a prognosis and plan of care for patients. Physical therapy assistants may attend an Associate degree program to learn about biology, physics, exercise physiology, anatomy, kinesiology, neuroscience, biomechanics, communications, ethics, research, and behavioral sciences. Physical therapy technicians (aides) might also be allowed to perform some services “under the direct supervision of a physical therapist”. There are many specialty areas for physical therapy, such as cardiovascular and pulmonary, clinical electrophysiology, geriatric, integumentary (skin-related), neurological, orthopedic (musculoskeletal), pediatric, sports, women’s health, and palliative care.4
Find out about physical therapy vs. chiropractic care.