For individuals interested in physical therapy, understanding more about the career before you begin pursuing it is always important. The same holds true for any job type or career, even if you know the basics about what a profession is, you might not fully understand what that translates to on a day-to-day, routine level. Take a look inside a typical day of a physical therapist to see what you’ll be working with as the foundation of your career.
Physical therapists have a wide range of different responsibilities, and it begins with meeting patients and giving them introductory examinations and tests. There are numerous options that can be administered or utilized, including basic muscle function and joint flexibility, to range of motion, balance, motor functionality, impairment or capability in specific activities, posture and much more.
This leads to a physical therapist needing to make a diagnosis for their patient. Now that you have examined them, what actually is the root cause of the problem, and how can either the symptoms, or the root problem, or both be treated effectively? This is where developing a treatment and management plan comes into play. Your job here will be to improve your patient’s life, whether that’s completely ridding them of a problem, reducing pain, increasing functionality, or anything else.
Developing realistic goals for your patients to work towards with you, educating them on what they have to do to succeed in the short and long term, and then actually performing the physical therapy itself to achieve results. There are many different treatment options for physical therapy, and you’ll need to determine what the individual’s best options are, from basic exercise to mobilization therapy, electrotherapy, motor development and more.
Of course, the typical day of a physical therapist will vary greatly depending on where you actually work. The day-to-day responsibilities, and the types of patients that you see, and the types of testing and treatment that you perform as a result, will be quite different in a hospital setting as opposed to a private practice, or a long term care and rehabilitation facility. If you have specific areas that you’d like to focus on – let’s say, rehabilitating individuals over long periods of time recouping from drastic accidents and injuries – then you should seek out employment opportunities specifically involving that.
Physical therapy techniques will evolve for a patient over time, as they cross new milestones, regain strength, flexibility or motion, and so forth. Adjusting your tactics, and continuing to progress, will be important as you continue working with patients over long periods of time.
As you can see, a physical therapist will take on many tasks and responsibilities all throughout the day. You’ll always be working with your patients, from introductory examinations, tests and diagnosis, to the development of treatment plans, ongoing management and physical therapy, and even education and general support or assistance. If you like being hands on and helping individuals to have a better life with physical injury, conditions or other impairments, then physical therapy is for you.