As important participants in the medical health care delivery environment, physical therapists assume leading roles in prevention, therapy and programs which promote optimal health, fitness and mobility. Physical therapists usually do the following: Assisting patients with strength training exercises. Help patients develop flexibility and motor skills. Provide instruction on weight-training exercises for patients with joint problems.
Physical therapy is an important branch of health care. Patients who have joint or other physical problems are often given a complete physical examination, requested to do activities that demonstrate their limitation, and are analyzed to determine the cause of the problem. In this process, the physician will ask many questions that can affect the course of treatment. Once the doctor has decided on which treatments will be used, the physical therapist is asked to help patients obtain the maximum benefit from the chosen regimen. Physical therapy involves the use of techniques, equipment and special products to help patients regain range-of-motion, flexibility, strength, and mobility.
To facilitate treatments that will alleviate pain and restore function, physical therapist recommend specific exercise programs that are designed to work specific muscles or groups of muscles. The recommended exercises are balanced and intense workouts that are performed multiple times per day, within recommended guidelines. A physical therapist can tailor exercises for different age groups, body types and energy levels of patients. For example, if a child’s muscular strength is impaired because of fragile bones and soft tissues, the therapist will recommend exercises that strengthen those areas.
Specializations in physical therapy may include rehabilitation, sports medicine, neurosurgery and orthopedics. Sports medicine refers to the application of therapeutic measures to prevent injuries from occurring in contact sports such as soccer, basketball, tennis, volleyball and football. Neurosurgery refers to the application of surgical measures to treat brain or spinal cord injuries. Orthopedics specializes in treating patients with musculoskeletal problems. Some orthopedic specializations include knee and hip replacements.
Due to the increase in demand for physical therapists, they can expect a better job outlook compared to many other health care workers. The job outlook for physical therapist is expected to grow faster than for other health care providers. The degree required to obtain a physical therapist certificate is a bachelor’s degree. Others require a master’s degree or higher to specialize.
As the demand for physical therapists increase, the need for affordable health care facilities to provide these services also increases. Many hospitals, clinics and other health care centers provide a supportive environment for physical therapist employees but there may be limited space or the need to accommodate more patients. In an effort to save money, some facilities hire part-time nurses to cover for the hours of physical therapist employees who are not in their own office. This helps the facilities save money on housing costs for the part-time nurses. This part-time arrangement is beneficial for working couples who want to share the responsibilities of caring for their respective loved ones but cannot afford to hire a full-time nanny.
To work as a physical therapist in the United States, you must meet state licensing requirements. Each state may have different educational requirements. You will want to check with your state licensing board to determine what specific courses you need to take before obtaining your certificate. In addition to the course work, you will need to pass the nationally accepted nationally recognized a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree. The degree must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education.
Physical therapists help patients who have muscle and joint pain resulting from conditions such as arthritis, torn muscles, sprains, accidents, sports injuries and other ailments. They help patients to design exercise programs to increase flexibility and strength. They also provide education about proper body mechanics, diet, nutrition and medical treatments that can help reduce pain and improve healing. In some cases, physical therapists are referred to as athletic trainers or therapists who work with athletes.