A Career as a Physical Therapist

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A career in physical therapy can be very rewarding for the right individual. With a physical therapy career, one can work with individuals of all ages. In addition, some therapists choose to specialize in specific injuries or diseases. The basic responsibility of a physical therapist is to help a patient feel better physically, a goal that is generally accomplished through a variety of exercises and stretches. Gradually, a physical therapist helps an injured or disabled person restore movement or improve his or her range of motion.

The Basic Responsibilities in a Physical Therapy Career

A person involved in a physical therapy career must go over the medical chart of the given patient in order to determine the best course of treatment for him or her. There are several things that play a role in determining the treatment provided by the therapist. Among them are the extent of the injury, the range of motion the patient had prior to the injury as well as how it has decreased since the injury, and how the patient became injured. Also, if the need for therapy has been caused by a disease, the therapist will also go over the medical charts to determine the most effective way to add to the patient's range of motion and flexibility while causing the least amount of discomfort to the patient and without complicating the disease further.

Starting a Physical Therapy Career

The American Physical Therapy Association reported that a whopping 209 accredited programs were available in 2007 for those interested in launching a physical therapy career. 43 of the 209 programs offered a master's degree, while another 116 were offering doctoral degrees in physical therapy. Generally, a doctoral program will take around three years to complete, while a master's program will take about two years.

When studying for a physical therapy career, one can expect to study biology, physics, and chemistry as the necessary sciences. From there, the future physical therapist will begin taking courses in biomechanics, human growth, microanatomy, human development, exam techniques, manifestations of diseases, and, of course, therapeutic procedures. In addition to learning in a classroom, a person pursuing a physical therapy career will also have the chance to work in a supervised clinic to gain hands-on, in-depth experience.

Taking a few extra courses can also help a potential physical therapist in his or her quest to be a great physical therapist. Courses in social science, anatomy, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology can prove to be useful additions to the course load. In addition, some courses may require a physical therapy student to volunteer time at either a hospital or other facility before being admitted into a physical therapy program.

In every state, it is mandatory for a physical therapist to be licensed. In order to gain licensure and start a physical therapy career, one must first pass a national physical therapist exam, as well as a state exam. A physical therapist must also graduate from one of the accredited programs for physical therapy before becoming licensed.
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