A physical therapist – often referred to as a “PT” – is a licensed health professional that specializes in pain reduction, improvements and restorations in mobility, and ensuring the overall well-being of patients. These health care specialists aid in diagnosing and treating individuals that have injuries and/or health conditions that result in limitations in movements and their ability to perform common, everyday activities. The goal of the activities that they perform is to restore the physical-based functioning and mobility of patients. In doing so, they help to promote a person’s well-being and help them enjoy a higher quality of life.
Physical therapists are considered to be leaders in the rehabilitation industry. This is because the work that they perform allows their patients that have chronic conditions – be it a result of illness or injury – to return to a point where they are able to live highly productive lives.
These health professionals are considered to be a critical component in the health care regimens of patients. This is due to the fact that they specialize in addressing the following:
- Preventing future health issues – such as falls – by taking prevention initiatives
- Helping patients increase physical activity in order to overcome health conditions that could – otherwise – be disabling
- Creating programs that focus on general wellness for those that suffer from medical conditions and/or disabilities that prevent free movements
Physical therapists provide patients with a customized health care plan that addresses their unique needs.
An examination is done, medical history is reviewed, and an interview is conducted that allows the physical therapist to determine which techniques will be most beneficial to a patient in terms of promoting the unique ability for that person to move, reducing pain, restoring that person’s functioning, and the prevention of long-term disability.
The treatment plan created by physical therapists is geared towards fitness and general wellness. This ensures each patient is able to live a healthy and active life.
Where Do Physical Therapists Work?
Physical therapists are provided with a variety of work environments – which provides them with a high level of career options and professional flexibility. Examples of places physical therapists can be found include the following:
- Private Physical Therapy Practices
- Medical Clinics
- Rehabilitation Facilities
- Assisted Living Facilities
- Nursing Homes/Skilled Nursing Facilities
- Education Centers
- Centers for Research
- Sports Training Centers
- Gyms or Fitness Centers
- Government Organizations
- Home Health
Training to be a Physical Therapist
Throughout the past, individuals that wanted to pursue a career in physical therapy could do so by obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Now, the educational requirements for this health care job has changed.
The organization known as the American Physical Therapy Association now offers the Doctor of Physical Therapy or “DPT” degree. In most instances, this training can be completed in three years. It involves both classroom and clinical learning.
Once completed, an individual must pass a national examination on physical therapy and complete the application for a state license. Those that have a desire to become board certified in a specialty – such as orthopedics or neurology – must complete at least 2,000 hours of clinicals and pass a comprehensive written examination.
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