Physical therapy is an important branch of rehabilitation that focuses on treating, resolving, or in some cases, helping a patient adapt to/compensate for various types of injuries, diseases or illnesses. Physical therapists teach their patients how to improve and maximize their function in the face of a particular condition. To do this, they may use a variety of techniques and services, including:
Manual therapy such as joint mobilizations and manipulations, massage, Active Release Technique (ART) and dry needling
Therapeutic exercises designed to reduce swelling and pain or improve tissue healing, range of motion, strength, endurance, balance and coordination
Noninvasive modalities such as paraffin baths, therapeutic ultrasound, electrical stimulation and biofeedback
Adaptive devices including walking aides, braces and prostheses
Patient and caregiver education
A physical therapy career can be found in a variety of settings: acute care hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals, outpatient private practices, schools, skilled nursing facilities, and even in private homes as part of home health care services. Physical therapists work with people of all ages and health backgrounds who are dealing with a range of conditions, such as:
Typical Roles and Duties of Physical Therapist Jobs
Physical therapist jobs vary slightly by patient population and setting, but general duties include:
Assess, examine and evaluate patients to determine impairments and confirm a diagnosis
Develop, implement, modify and adjust an appropriate plan of care based on specific goals set by the therapist, patient and/or caregiver
Utilize various physical therapy techniques and services (both manual and active) to improve patient function and reduce pain
Create treatment documentation and periodic progress reports to record changes and improvement
Supervise physical therapy assistants and rehabilitation aides
Work collaboratively with the rest of a patient's health care team to help ensure proper continuity of care and effective communication regarding patient progress at every stage of recovery (other team members include doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, speech therapists, social workers, teachers and parents/caregivers)
Educational Prerequisites for Becoming a Physical Therapist
Being a physical therapist first requires completion of a bachelor's degree — ideally within a related health field. Next, candidates must enter and complete a three-year graduate course in which they will earn their doctorate of physical therapy degree.
As part of their degree fulfillment, candidates must finish three supervised clinical internships of various lengths to gain exposure to typical work environments and patient populations.
While completing residencies and fellowships and obtaining specialty degrees are optional, physical therapists must sit for a national board examination and meet their individual state's licensing requirements to be eligible to practice.
Are you ready to head down the physical therapy career path and advance your clinical practice? Find physical therapy jobs near you with help from Invo-Progressus today.
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