Physical therapists (PTs) are essential members of the health care team. PTs directly interact with patients especially those with physical injuries that result in impaired muscular function, pain, or immobility issues. Developmental issues in babies and young children that affect mobility are also potential patients.
The goal of the PTs services is to aid the healing process and thereby restore or promote health and physical fitness.
About 160,000 PTs are employed in the US ; most work in hospitals, physician offices, or wellness facilities. PTs in practice today are graduates from masters or doctoral degree programs in physical therapy and have passed a licensure examination. The pre physical therapy program at EMU includes courses in basic science as a preparation to enter a quality physical therapy program.
During the next couple of decades, the job market for PTs will continue to expand and more openings than available workers are anticipated. Nationally the median annual earnings of PTs range from $61,000-65,000.
A PT does many evaluative, diagnostic, and treatment procedures with patients. These include examining medical histories, testing and measuring patients’ range of motion, coordination and balance, strength, respiration, and muscle performance.
The PT works to enhance the ability of the patient to be independent and to be reconnected to the workplace following an accident or injury. A PT typically devises and describes a treatment strategy that will promote the desired mobility outcome. [Select PT Educational Programs for more information]
A related field to PT is the physical therapy assistant or PTA. PTA’s are trained to give physical therapy treatments to disable patients of all ages. A PTA works under the supervision of a PT.
Treatment routines are prescribed by PTs but may be carried out with the patient by PTAs and may include: exercising to increase strength and coordination, decreasing pain with heat, cold and water treatments, and teaching rehabilitation activities such as walking with crutches. To practice as a PTA requires a state licensure which is given upon passing a national licensure examination.