Physical therapists are health care providers who help rehabilitate people who have been injured or who have illnesses and have just finished surgery. Physical therapists provided exercises and other supervised activities that improve the patient’s mobility and give them pain management treatment. They also play an important role in rehabilitating people with chronic disorders and other physical disabilities. Typically, physical therapists work in hospitals, both local and private. There are also clinics, nursing and residential care facilities and in home health care. But offices of health care practitioners have the largest number of practicing physical therapists. Only a small percent of practicing physical therapists are self-employed.
Like most health care providers, people who pursue physical therapy are highly empathetic and have a passion to help other people. A career in physical therapy demands actively working with patients who are in pain so compassion is a very important quality. A physical therapist must have dexterity as the job entails giving manual therapy and other therapeutic exercises. Not only would he be working with his hands but also he must have no problem with much physical activity. Because PTs spend much of their time on their feet, moving as they move their patients, physical therapists need to have good physical stamina. They are also very detail oriented people, being able to analyze and diagnose a patient’s problem to correctly evaluate treatments and be able to provide safe and effective therapy to the patient.
Because PTs interact so much with their patients, they must also possess good communication and interpersonal skills. Physical therapists should be able to educate and explain carefully the treatment programs to their patients, including the families of the patients. And most importantly, they should be able to listen to the patients’ concerns in order to provide an effective care.
Physical therapists provide their services to people with different needs. From functional problems from back and neck injuries, to sprains, fractures and amputations, arthritis, to birth conditions like cerebral palsy, to work and sports related injuries and other conditions. So physical therapists use modalities or varied techniques suited to the patient’s needs. They may use hands-on stimulation using heat and cold, or using adaptive devices and equipment for the treatments but they would have different exercises and activities and also a varied level of intensity that they provide accordingly to the age, condition and need of the patient. They also develop wellness-oriented programs to prevent mobility-loss and to encourage a healthier, more active lifestyle for the patient. Though most physical therapists specialize in a particular type of care, whether in pediatrics, geriatrics or sports therapy, they still work together with a team of healthcare professionals caring for the patient.