Physical therapy is an important health care service that focuses on rehabilitating ill, injured or disabled patients. Without physical therapy, many patients would experience mild to severe life limitations.
The Physical Therapy Process
Physical therapists, sometimes referred to as PTs, are the health care professionals who provide physical therapy to patients. They begin by reviewing the physician notes and the patients’ medical history. During their face-to-face appointment, they will observe the patients’ dysfunctional movements. They will also interview the patient in order to understand their physical limitations at home or at work. Based on their experience and medical expertise, they will set up a care plan that will include goals and expected outcomes. Part of this will involve demonstration and assigning exercises, stretches and techniques to reduce pain, increase mobility and improve health and wellness. Sometimes, they will also provide hands-on therapy or instruct the person how to use adaptive equipment, such as crutches or walkers. During subsequent follow-up appointments, they will evaluate their patient’s progress and adjust the plan or experiment with new treatments if needed. Throughout the entire process, they will educate patients and their familiar about how to speed up and best cope with the recovery process.
Physical Therapy Specializations
The exact work that physical therapists perform depends on their specialty. For example, certain physical therapists work exclusively with parents dealing with chronic illnesses, such as cancer or diabetes. These physical therapists will work closely with oncology nurses and doctors. Others specialize in sports related injuries and primarily work with athletes. They may provide on-site services at athletic clubs or professional sports facilities. Still, many physical therapists help occupational therapists who treat injured workers. They must carefully monitor their patients in order to ensure that they are not forced to return to work early.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), physical therapists are the health care professionals who assist ill or injured patients recover functionality and manage pain. The BLS estimates that the job outlook for physical therapists will grow by 36 percent from 2012 to 2022. Most physical therapists work set schedules in hospitals or physician offices. However, other physical therapists are itinerant health care professionals who visit home care or assisted living facilities. Physical therapists must successfully graduate from a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. Most of these programs last three years and require students to possess a bachelor’s degree. Students will also be expected to be very familiar with biology, physics, anatomy and physics. This is because Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs will teach students about biomechanics, neuroscience, pharmacology and anatomy.
Overall, physical therapists provide personalized care to patients of all ages who have health related problems that limit their mobility or functionality.