What a Physical Therapist Does

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Physical therapy is a very challenging career, and therefore it is better that a person aspiring to be a physical therapist be aware about the job description, responsibilities, duties, what are the requirements or needed in a physical therapy program, etc. Physical therapists provide treatments to patients who require physical rehabilitation.

Role of a Physical Therapist

A physical therapist can be an occupational, speech or recreational therapist who ensures the over all well-being of the patients who can be accident victims or other people who are disabled. They treat conditions like back pain, joint pains, and disabilities. A patient is taken care of and assisted by a physical therapist over certain duration. A physical therapist has to do the medical examination of a patient, determination of the ability, develop various plans of treatment, providing treatment strategies, its description, and work towards its positive result.

Specialty Areas of Physical Therapists

Neurological - They specialize in treating patients who have Alzheimer's disease, brain injuries, or multiple sclerosis, etc.

Orthopedic - They examine and treat patients who have undergone orthopedic surgery related to joints and amputations, etc.

Geriatric - These physical therapists focus on treating older adults suffering from arthritis, hip and joint replacement, and cancer, etc.

Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation - physical therapists in this specialty focus on patients with heart disease, coronary bypass surgery, pulmonary disease, pulmonary fibrosis, and more.

Pediatric - They specialize in treating children of all age groups who are suffering from neuromuscular, speech, cerebral palsy or other problems.

Skills Required

Physical therapists must possess all the knowledge, the principles, ethics and practices of this profession. They must be aware of all the therapeutic techniques and how to use related equipment. A physical therapist must have the ability to make use of all the materials and equipment used in various therapeutic programs. He or she must know how to evaluate, administer and conduct all activities for medical interpretation. He or she must also know how to work effectively with others and therefore have a lot of patience and good communication skills.

Educational Requirements

For landing a job as a physical therapist one must have a master's degree via program that is accredited. Official website of American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) provides admission information and lists accredited schools one can gain experience through volunteering or doing internship. The subjects that an aspiring therapist should graduate in are inclusive of chemistry, physics and biology with specialization in subjects like human growth, neuroanatomy, biomechanics etc. After graduating, candidates have to pass the national and the state licensing examinations. Earning a physical therapy continuing education degree is also helpful. They are:
  • Direct Entry Master's in Physical Therapy Degree
  • Transitional Master's in Physical Therapy Degree
  • Direct Entry Doctorate in Physical Therapy Degree
  • Transitional Doctorate in Physical Therapy Degree
Most of the therapists have 40 hours work duration in a week and one out of five are part time therapists. The area of their practice is in clinics, hospitals and even private offices.

A physical therapist's hourly wage is around $35 and the average annual salary is around $72,000.

This particular field is expected to grow above 21% by 2016 and even higher. Around 68,000 employees are required in this field; therefore the opportunities are being developed. Physical therapy and its various areas are expected to grow more than any other job prospects. With the right qualifications, knowledge, skills, abilities and experience one can have higher chances of getting employed in large institutions.
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