Who Is a Physical Therapist?
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Many individuals who experience physical trauma may need the attention of physical therapists. Physical therapists are health care experts that diagnose and treat people who have health complications.
This includes complications that limit their abilities to perform daily functional activities.
Physical therapists provide cost-effective treatment that relieves pain, enhances mobility, minimizes the need for medication and surgery.
They also assist patients in taking part in recovery programs developed for their individual needs. Physical therapists also work with people to prevent mobility loss by designing fitness and wellness plans to improve active and healthy lifestyles.
According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), many physical therapists practice in clinics, but over 80% work in other areas.
They offer their services to people in many settings, including private practices, clinics, and home health agencies. Their services also extend to outpatient clinics, schools, nursing homes, sports and fitness facilities.
As key players in the health care system, physical therapists take on significant roles in prevention, rehabilitation, and programs that improve health, fitness, and wellness.
They also specialize in developing health care policies and standard physical therapy practices. This helps to secure accessibility, availability, and premium delivery of health care services.
Physical therapists are also involved in examination process such as:
- Collecting the medical history of patient’s
- Reviewing test results, medications, and reports from other health care providers
- Conduction of system reviews
- Carrying out tests to identify any potential complications
It is also the job of a physical therapist to perform evaluations, synthesize examination data, and propose if suspected problems require physical therapy.
Generally, physical therapy involves the following:
- Inform patients about what to expect and the best way to cope with recovery
- Incorporate techniques such as hands-on therapy, exercises, and equipment to help patients with pain
- Diagnose a patient’s movements and functions by observing them perform simple mobility activities
- Develop individualized plans of care centered on their medical experience
- Monitor patients progress and make any adjustments to suit their care
- Design discharge plans
Some health problem that is commonly attended to by physical therapists include the following:
- Back and neck pain
- Brain injury
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Cancer-related conditions
- Chronic pain
- Cerebral palsy
- Muscle strains
- Cystic fibrosis
- Fall risk and balance issues
- Multiple sclerosis
- Pelvic pain
- Parkinson’s disease
- Joint injuries
- Sports injuries
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Plantar fasciitis
- Spinal cord injuries and congenital disabilities
- Post-operative rehabilitation
Physical therapy practice varies based on the type of patient involved. For instance, the care given to an injured athlete is different from a patient experiencing mobility loss caused by stroke.
Some physical therapists’ main specialization is in geriatrics or orthopedics. Several therapists would have to prevent mobility complications by designing fitness and wellness plans to stimulate active and healthier lifestyles.
These healthcare professionals are mostly always on their feet. They spend most of their time working with patients by either lifting them or moving them around.
Depending on the work plan, physical therapists work Monday-to-Friday. Nonetheless, some of them are required to work on weekends or in the evenings.
Physical therapist is ranked twelfth on the list of health care jobs in the United States. This means it is a highly sought-after job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics proposes that physical therapists’ employment will increase by 36% between 2014 – 2024. This is faster than the average number of available jobs.
A physical therapist’s salary varies depending on geographical location, degree, years of experience, position, and practice setting. The average salary for a physical therapist in the U.S is $84,020 annually.
Depending on location, physical therapists are required to have a doctorate. To be a certified therapist in the United States, you need a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from an accredited institution.
You must have also passed a state licensure exam before being permitted to practice. Generally, it takes four years to finish a bachelor’s degree program, followed by the DPT education program that takes three years to complete.
Some programs provide a 3/3 curricular format where three years of target specified pre-professional courses are required. This is necessary before a student can proceed to a three-year DPT program.
Many programs select all or some students from high school into a freshman admissions program. Students that get accepted can automatically progress into the professional stage until they complete their undergraduate courses.
Beginning in 2015, the United States education programs only offered DPT degrees to a professional physical therapist. However, degrees in Master of Science in Physical Therapy and Master of Physical Therapy no longer exist.
Prospective students can check the (APTA) American Physical Therapy Associations’ brochure and the (PTCAS) Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service website.
This includes the list of accredited DPT programs. Students of physical therapy would have classes that include:
- Behavioral sciences
- Cardiovascular and pulmonary system
- Biology/ anatomy
- Exercise physiology
- Musculoskeletal system
- Endocrine and metabolic system
- Evidence-based practice
- Clinical reasoning
- Management sciences
- Cellular histology
Students would also be required to have lab study and spend some time getting clinical experience. To practice as a physical therapist, you must complete a state licensure exam once you’ve obtained a DPT degree.