Physical therapy is a field of medicine that specializes in improving and rehabilitating physical functioning. Most physical therapists work with people who are suffering from injuries or need rehabilitation after a surgical procedure. Physical therapy aims to improve mobility, movement, muscle strength and flexibility.
Physical Therapy Degree Programs
A physical therapy degree program is the degree you need to prepare you for a career in physical therapy. Working with the body’s physical functioning, you have to be formally trained and educated. Physical therapy programs are available in the undergraduate level. What you can expect in the first two years of college is a strong emphasis on science subjects including anatomy, chemistry, physics, social sciences and biology.
The latter years of your physical therapy degree will be more focused on physical therapy itself. Students will take up subjects like neuro-anatomy, biomechanics, human growth, human development, examination techniques, therapeutic practices and disease manifestation. Aside from the classroom studies, students will be required to complete internship programs. Students will be assigned to work with a professional physical therapist and act as his assistant. This allows the PT student to gain experience and apply what he has learned in the classroom.
An associate degree will be enough to become a physical therapy assistant but if you aim to be a licensed physical therapist, you have to earn a bachelor’s degree and then complete the National Physical Therapy Examination. Pursuing a master’s degree afterwards is highly recommended for physical therapists who want to advance in their careers.
Online Degree Programs For Physical Therapy
For students who cannot devote their full time into studying, they can enroll in accredited programs for online degree for PTs. Online programs on physical therapy have similar coursework to that of regular PT degree programs except that you have to study by yourself. All learning materials are accessed online. Students benefit from the flexible schedule, self-pace learning and cheaper tuition fees. However, only enroll in an accredited program on PT degrees if you want your degree to be recognized.
The Work Of A Physical Therapist
The everyday work of a physical therapist will include examining the medical history of patients and testing their physical movements. Tests will check the patient’s posture, range of motion, balance, coordination, strength, muscle strength, motor functions and respiration. After the testing, the physical therapist will develop a treatment plan based on the diagnosis. A physical therapy treatment plan involves plenty of physical exercises that will rehabilitate and strengthen muscles that were impaired.
Patients who go to the physical therapists are those who have disabling conditions and were part of an accident. Patients who have arthritis, sports injuries, low-back pain, fractures, head injuries, muscle sprain and strain, ligament tears, heart disease and cerebral palsy can all benefit from physical therapy. Physical therapists use modalities and exercises to restore the physical functions, mobility, relieve pain and prevent physical disabilities from happening. PT aides or assistants aid physical therapists.
Aside from earning your degree and obtaining a license to practice, a physical therapist has to have certain traits in order to be successful in this career. For one, a physical therapist should have good dexterity. This is needed to perform manual therapy. Another thing you will need is physical strength and stamina. Since you will be standing and moving around with your patients, you should be physical fit. Not to mention, you have to assist patients in getting up and performing exercises too. Last, you will need to be compassionate and have good interpersonal skills at the same time. You must be encouraging and motivating.
Job Growth, Salary And Work Of A Physical Therapist
Back in 2010, there were 199,000 jobs for physical therapists in the US. These physical therapists work full-time but a quarter chooses to work part-time. Physical therapists work in hospitals, home health care centers, nursing homes, residential care facilities, rehabilitation centers and private clinics. Physical therapists who have their own practice can share their office space with a chiropractor or an occupational therapist.
The job growth rate for physical therapists will be expected to grow in the next 10 years. There is high demand for physical therapists. One of the important factors of this demand is the aging baby boomer population. This aging population has reached an age where the body is prone to suffering from physical disabilities and injuries. Although they can find care in nursing homes, it is still best to help the seniors improve their physical movements and functions as long as possible. Therefore, the job outlook for physical therapists remains excellent.
The median salary of a physical therapist is $78,300 while the median hourly wage is $37.63. Physical therapy assistants have an average salary of $41,000 a year. Physical therapists with higher educational attainment will earn higher than average. The salary of a physical therapist will also depend where he works. Anyhow, the job market for physical therapists is presently good and expected to still improve in the coming years.