Physical therapy is an exciting, rewarding, and important health profession that applies scientific principles to prevent and remedy problems in human movement. Undoubtedly you have already been exposed to physical therapy in one way or another. Perhaps you or someone you know has sought physical therapy for rehabilitation after an injury, or has increased relieved lower back pain through therapeutic exercise. Maybe you know of an individual who has regained the ability to walk following a stroke, or another who has increased muscular endurance for maximum performance in athletics.
Doctors of physical therapy specialize in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of musculoskeletal and neuromuscular disorders that can impair or prevent normal physical function. Trained to understand, detect, treat, and remedy a vast array of movement dysfunction, physical therapists employ basic and clinical science to relieve pain, to enhance strength, endurance, coordination, flexibility, joint range of motion, and to provide training for mobility and independence in the home and throughout the community.
Doctors of physical therapy focus on movement disorders by understanding the body's musculoskeletal composition and by thoroughly examining the underlying components of cardiac, pulmonary, neurological and musculoskeletal activitiy effecting the manner in which we function. With this knowledge, doctors of physical therapy are then able to design responsive and proactive theraputic programs that will treat or prevent movement dysfunction quickly, accurately, and independently. Because of their extensive training and the expressed need, physical therapists treat a variety of patients and clients, in multiple settings including hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, home care agencies, corporations, schools, and rehabilitation centers.
Therapists may elect to practice as generalists or they may choose one of a number of specialty areas. Some of the areas of specialty in which physical therapists may practice are the following:
- Sports physical therapy
In addition to the many specialties and practice options, physical therapists have multiple opportunities in administration, research, and education.
Exposure to the Field, Shadowing, and Volunteering
PT programs require applicants to have experience in a physical therapy, with some requiring that those observation hours be verified by a licensed physical therapist. Volunteer experience as a physical therapy aide enable you to make informed career decisions and determine your future work environment.