Physical therapy or physiotherapy is a healthcare profession that focuses on the treatment of disabilities and the improvement of mobility, function and quality of life through assessment, diagnosis, intervention, and evaluation of patients. Those who practice physical therapy are called physical therapists or physiotherapists. As with modern medicine, physical therapy originated with the ancient Greeks. Back in 460 B.C., physicians such as Hippocrates and Galen advocated massage, manual therapy, and hydrotherapy – all basic techniques in the world of physical therapy. Fast forward to the modern world, physical therapy is now spearheading the last phase of treating patients, rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation is the reacclimatization of patients back to their normal world. Physical therapists teach patients to do things normally again – to walk normally, to write normally, or to eat normally. They help patients cope with their injuries and learn to live a normal life again. In addition, with the thousands of people being injured each day it is no wonder that physical therapists are in such high demand.
Earning Potential For Physical Therapists Working In The United States
According to the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, in 2010 alone, there were 198,600 physical therapists working in the United States earning on average $76,310 per year or $36.69 per hour. Growth rates are predicted to be at 39% up until the year 2020, meaning another 77,400 physical therapists will be hired up until the year 2020. For comparison, most jobs only have a growth rate of 14%.
The demand for physical therapists, like most healthcare professions, will come in large part from the aging Generation X or Baby Boomer generation. As is common, the elderly are more prone to accidents, injuries, falls, strokes, heart attacks, and other mobility-related illnesses. The physical therapist is definitely the specialist for this particular problem. Moreover, with technology playing its part, minimally invasive surgery has become a norm in outpatient facilities. The physical therapist will be of high demand because of the need to rehabilitate these patients who recently went under the knife.
Currently though, the largest employers of physical therapists are private clinics who employ 97,000 physical therapists, hospitals who employ 55,000 physical therapists, and not far behind, nursing care facilities for the elderly who employ 14,000 physical therapists.
The job outlook for physical therapists looks pretty opportunistic in the coming years. Wages are at an all time high and benefits are bountiful whichever company you choose. It is definitely a fulfilling profession worth its weight in gold.