Physical therapy is a career choice that encompasses a wide range of career options and settings. Physical therapists are specialists in the movement of the body, human anatomy and rehabilitation through movement and exercise.
Physical therapists may be employed in a variety of clinical settings including clinics, doctor's offices, hospitals, and even through the military. The average yearly income of a physical therapist is $81,099.
Physical therapy uses coordinated movements and exercise to rehabilitate and strengthen the human body. Physical therapy is most frequently used after an injury or medical procedure, though it may be combined with treatment for a variety of illnesses and diseases in a holistic approach to treatment. Physical therapy can be intensive for both the patient and the therapist and requires significant patient contact. Physical therapy is generally temporary until the patient reaches the rehabilitation goals, so long-term patient relationships are not common. Standard prescriptions for physical therapy can run from a few weeks to several months depending on the severity of the injury.
Physical therapists generally obtain a four-year degree and may complete work-study programs giving them familiarity for the process for interacting with patients. Physical therapists generally study anatomy and biology as well as kinetics and physiology. Physical therapists do not prescribe medication, however they often report the results of their treatment to a patient's physician and often work closely within a larger team of medical professionals. This field is projected to grow over the next decade as baby boomers reach retirement age and face declining health and mobility. Whether you wish to work with children, the elderly, or anyone in-between, there are viable career options in physical therapy.
Physical therapist are often involved in sports medicine and may work with injured athletes. Rehabilitating athletes can involve individuals across a broad spectrum from a high-school quarterback just beginning in a sport to a multimillion dollar professional athlete trying to remain fit for play. Physical therapists will work with injured athletes to return to their former level of skill and build the appropriate supporting muscles to maintain fitness after an injury.
Physical therapists will also work with individuals recovering from surgery or trauma that has caused a period of inactivity that allow for atrophy of muscles. Physical therapists will work to rebuild damaged and lost muscle and encourage returning to a level of activity similar to that prior to the trauma or surgery, if possible. Due to the increase in traumatic injuries in those in the military, there has been a renewed focus on physical therapy in the military and many returning soldiers are requiring physical therapy to recover skills and capabilities lost due to traumatic injuries, especially amputations and closed head injuries.
Finding success as a Physical Therapist
There is a broad range of possibilities for students seeking to enter the physical therapy field. Private clinics offer a small office setting for individuals seeking personal contact in a clinical patient setting. University hospitals offer an exciting setting for research and cutting-edge diagnosis and treatment of injuries. Military clinics will allow individuals to support returning heroes while utilizing their caring and supportive skills in making a difference to veterans. Physical therapy is an excellent entry-level option for the healthcare field and is in high-demand. Physical therapists treat a wide variety of individuals and conditions and can count on a varied work-flow and exciting options to interact with a diverse group of people. Physical therapy requires a high degree of compassion and patience, but is a rewarding career option with significant growth projected.