Physical Therapist Career Overview:
A physical therapist may see patients in a medical office or hospital setting, depending on the career path chosen by the physical therapist.
For example, a patient who has had a relatively routine knee surgery may need a few sessions of physical therapy to get his or her knee back to its full range of motion. On the other hand, a more severely injured patient may require months of physical therapy just to gain the strength and range of motion needed to stand and walk.
Typical Work Load and Work Environment:
Typically a physical therapy room is equipped with a variety of apparatus, used to rehabilitate patients. This may include weights, mats, and treadmills where PT’s can perform a variety of exercises with the patients to improve motor skills, sensory perception, and muscle strength.
Required Skills for Entry Level Physical Therapist Careers:
- Assess and review all systems of the body as needed to determine the need for physical therapy, and the scope of therapy needed as well as the patient's limitations.
- Perform tests to characterize and quantify range of motion, sensory integrity (sharp/dull, hot/cold, pressure, vibration, etc), neuromotor skills, and reflexes.
- Clinical reasoning and decision-making to determine a diagnosis (what's wrong with the patient) and prognosis (will the patient improve, how much, and when)
- Use goal-setting skills to set a plan of care in action
- First-Aid, CPR, safety, in case of emergency
- Use of orthotics, prosthetics, walkers, wheelchairs, and other supportive devices
- Manual therapy, tissue massage, traction, and manipulation
- Communication skills for patient/family education, consultations with other health professionals
- Practice Management skills such as billing & coding for proper reimbursement, documentation of medical records, supervising staff such as physical therapy assistants, and quality improvement
- Professional skills and values such as accountability, integrity, compassion, responsibility
Salary Data for Physical Therapists' Careers:
How to Become a Physical Therapist:
There are also master’s level degrees and doctorate level degrees available. The school should be accredited by CAPTE (Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education).