Physical Therapist

Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapist, Chief Physical Therapist, Geriatric Physical Therapist   More Names
Home Care Physical Therapist, Kinesiotherapist, Orthopedic Physical Therapist, Outpatient Physical Therapist, Pediatric Physical Therapist, Per Diem Physical Therapist, Physical Therapist (PT), Physical Therapist, Director of Rehabilitation, Physical Therapists, Physiotherapist, Pulmonary Physical Therapist, Registered Physical Therapist (RPT), Rehabilitation Services Director, Sports Physical Therapist, Staff Physical Therapist (Staff PT), Treatment Coordinator
Description

Examine, evaluate, diagnose, plan, and treat individuals of all ages to improve mobility, reduce pain, restore function, prevent disability, and enhance fitness and wellness in patients and clients with medical problems or other health conditions, illnesses, or injuries that limits their ability to move and perform functional activities.

Physical therapists use interventions that may include education, motivation, therapeutic exercise, functional training, manual therapy techniques, assistive and adaptive devices and equipment, and physical agents and electrotherapeutic procedures.

They often consult and practice with a variety of other professionals, such as physicians, dentists, nurses, educators, social workers, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and audiologists.

Physical therapists may practice in hospitals, outpatient clinics, private offices, educational settings, and research centers that have specially equipped facilities. They also practice in extended and skilled nursing facilities and home health care services. Others are employed by local, state, or federal government agencies, with about one in ten being self-employed.

Physical therapists work with individuals who have medical problems or other health-related conditions, illnesses, or injuries such as such as back and neck injuries, sprains and fractures, arthritis, burns, amputations, stroke, and multiple sclerosis. They also work with injuries related to work and sports and conditions such as cerebral palsy and spina bifida that limit individuals' abilities to move and perform functional activities as well as they would like in their daily lives. In addition, physical therapists work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness and wellness programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.

Physical therapists examine each individual and develop a plan using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. They use evidence-based tests and measures to examine and evaluate range of motion, strength, flexibility, pain, motor development and function, sensory perception, respiratory and circulatory system efficiency, function, and more. In addition, they review any patient health records from physicians or other health practitioners, to inform their examination and evaluation and determine the diagnosis and subsequent physical therapy interventions.

During treatment sessions, physical therapists observe and examine an individual's responses to the interventions to determine if they are achieving the desired outcomes, and then make adjustments as needed to achieve maximum benefit. They also record the patient's overall therapy status and note any changes - either positive or negative - that remain to be addressed.

After treatment, physical therapists educate and instruct the individual and their family or caregivers about activities and exercises to continue at home, school, or work. They also will consult with the individual's physician or other medical practitioners who may have been involved in the patient's care or initial therapy referral. The day-to-day practice of physical therapists can be physically demanding since they often must kneel, crouch, lift, and stand for long periods. In addition, they move heavy equipment, help lift patients, and aid them as they turn, stand, or walk.

Physical therapists often consult and practice with other medical and healthcare professionals, such as physicians, dentists, nurses, educators, social workers, occupational therapists, psychologists, pharmacists, speech-language pathologists, and audiologists. In the course of their practice, they also supervise and direct physical therapist assistants, who help them in providing patient interventions and also in delegating tasks to other support personnel, including physical therapist aides.

Within the overall field of physical therapy, the physical therapist is a high-end career. To practice in this career as an entry-level physical therapist requires an individual to have a master's or doctorate degree in physical therapy and to be state-licensed. Opportunities for advancement may include becoming a supervisor, or an owner of a physical therapy practice.

Credentials Needed: All 50 states and the District of Columbia (plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) require that physical therapists earn passing scores on national and state licensing examinations and hold a state license to practice in the state. To check what your state may require regarding licensing or other credentials for physical therapists, checkĀ Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) .

Some Key Things to Remember: Physical therapists examine, evaluate, diagnose, plan, and treat individuals of all ages to improve mobility, reduce pain, restore function, prevent disability, and enhance fitness and wellness in patients and clients with medical problems or other health conditions, illnesses, or injuries that limit their ability to move and perform functional activities.

To practice as a physical therapist requires a minimum of a master's degree in physical therapy earned through an education program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). All 50 states and the District of Columbia (plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) require that physical therapists be state licensed.

Preceding written narrative as well as that for the Education & Training narrative section were reviewed for content and accuracy by the American Physical Therapy Association, February 14 and September 16, 2012.

More Details
Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
34% - Much faster than average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $70,680 - $100,880    Hourly: $34 - $49
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

This profession can be physically demanding, because physical therapists may have to stoop, kneel, crouch, lift, and stand for extended periods. In addition, physical therapists move heavy equipment and lift patients or help them turn, stand, or walk.

Legal Requirements
General/Nationwide
State-Specific
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Occupational Therapist
Typical Education: Master's and Above (High School + 6 or more Years)
Salary (National): $67,140 - $99,300

(Data Drawn from O*NET)
 
      

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

Master's and Above (High School + 6 or more Years)
Find Programs

Percent Job Growth:

34% - Much faster than average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $70,680 - $100,880

Hourly: $34 - $49