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Physical therapists, sometimes called PTs, help injured or ill people improve their movement and manage their pain. These therapists are often an important part of rehabilitation, treatment, and prevention of patients with chronic conditions, illnesses, or injuries.Duties
Physical therapists typically do the following:
Physical therapists provide care to people of all ages who have functional problems resulting from back and neck injuries; sprains, strains, and fractures; arthritis; amputations; neurological disorders, such as stroke or cerebral palsy; injuries related to work and sports; and other conditions.
Physical therapists are educated to use a variety of different techniques to care for their patients. These techniques include exercises; training in functional movement, which includes the use of equipment such as canes, crutches, wheelchairs, and walkers; and special movements of joints, muscles, and other soft tissue to improve movement and decrease pain.
The work of physical therapists varies by type of patient. For example, a patient working to recover mobility lost after a stroke needs different care from a patient who is recovering from a sports injury. Some physical therapists specialize in one type of care, such as orthopedics or geriatrics. Many physical therapists also help patients to maintain or improve mobility by developing fitness and wellness programs to encourage healthier and more active lifestyles.
Physical therapists work as part of a healthcare team, overseeing the work of physical therapist assistants and aides and consulting with physicians and surgeons and other specialists.
Physical therapists need a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. All states require physical therapists to be licensed.Education
In 2015, there were more than 200 programs for physical therapists accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). All programs offer a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree.
DPT programs typically last 3 years. Most programs require a bachelor’s degree for admission as well as specific educational prerequisites, such as classes in anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, and physics. Some programs admit college freshmen into 6- or 7-year programs that allow students to graduate with both a bachelor’s degree and a DPT. Most DPT programs require applicants to apply through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS).
Physical therapist programs often include courses in biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, neuroscience, and pharmacology. Physical therapist students also complete at least 30 weeks of clinical work, during which they gain supervised experience in areas such as acute care and orthopedic care.
Physical therapists may apply to and complete a clinical residency program after graduation. Residencies typically last about 1 year and provide additional training and experience in specialty areas of care. Therapists who have completed a residency program may choose to specialize further by completing a fellowship in an advanced clinical area.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
All states require physical therapists to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state but all include passing the National Physical Therapy Examination administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Several states also require a law exam and a criminal background check. Continuing education is typically required for physical therapists to keep their license. Check with state boards for specific licensing requirements.
After gaining work experience, some physical therapists choose to become a board-certified specialist. The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties offers certification in 8 clinical specialty areas, including orthopedics, sports, and geriatric physical therapy. Board specialist certification requires passing an exam and at least 2,000 hours of clinical work or completion of an American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)-accredited residency program in the specialty area.Important Qualities
Compassion. Physical therapists are often drawn to the profession in part by a desire to help people. They work with people who are in pain and must have empathy for their patients.
Detail oriented. Like other healthcare providers, physical therapists should have strong analytic and observational skills to diagnose a patient’s problem, evaluate treatments, and provide safe, effective care.
Dexterity. Physical therapists must use their hands to provide manual therapy and therapeutic exercises. They should feel comfortable massaging and otherwise physically assisting patients.
Interpersonal skills. Because physical therapists spend a lot of time interacting with patients, they should enjoy working with people. They must be able to clearly explain treatment programs, motivate patients, and listen to patients’ concerns to provide effective therapy.
Physical stamina. Physical therapists spend much of their time on their feet, moving as they demonstrate proper techniques and help patients perform exercises. They should enjoy physical activity.
Resourcefulness. Physical therapists customize treatment plans for patients. They must be flexible and able to adapt plans of care to meet the needs of each patient.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Registered Physical Therapist
Top Careers After Registered Physical Therapist
Hispanic or Latino15.1%
Black or African American0.4%
Registered Physical Therapist
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
University of South Alabama8.3%
State University of New York Buffalo8.3%
Columbus State Community College4.2%
University of Mobile4.2%
University of North Alabama4.2%
Indiana University Bloomington4.2%
Palm Beach State College4.2%
Pima Community College4.2%
Moore College of Art and Design4.2%
University of Massachusetts - Lowell4.2%
Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College4.2%
Bay de Noc Community College4.2%
University of Kansas4.2%
Santa Fe Community College4.2%
Northwest Kansas Technical College4.2%
Wayne State University4.2%
Registered Physical Therapist
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Registered Physical Therapist/Staff||Golden Age Home Health Care, LLC||Greenwood, IN||Mar 17, 2014||$104,350 -
|Registered Physical Therapist||East Bay Physical Therapy||Richmond, CA||Sep 29, 2014||$100,176|
|Registered Physical Therapist||Mariner Health Care Managment Compnay||San Pablo, CA||Apr 08, 2013||$93,915|
|Registered Physical Therapist||Mariner Health Central Inc.||San Pablo, CA||Apr 26, 2013||$93,915|
|Registered Physical Therapist||Rehab Pathways, LLC||New York, NY||Oct 01, 2010||$87,500|
|Registered Physical Therapist||United Health Care Staffing, Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Oct 01, 2013||$87,360|
|Registered Physical Therapist/Staff||Golden Age Home Health Care, LLC||Greenwood, IN||Nov 04, 2016||$83,480 -
|Registered Physical Therapist||East Bay Physical Therapy||Richmond, CA||Dec 15, 2010||$83,480|
|Registered Physical Therapist||United Health Care Staffing, Inc.||San Jose, CA||Sep 01, 2013||$82,320|
|Registered Physical Therapist||United Health Care Staffing, Inc.||San Jose, CA||Sep 20, 2013||$82,320|
|Registered Physical Therapist||United Health Care Staffing, Inc.||San Jose, CA||Mar 25, 2013||$82,250|
|Registered Physical Therapist||United Health Care Staffing, Inc.||San Jose, CA||Sep 12, 2013||$82,250|
|Registered Physical Therapists||United Health Care Staffing, Inc.||San Jose, CA||Sep 01, 2013||$82,250|
|Registered Physical Therapist||United Health Care Staffing, Inc.||Fort Smith, AR||Feb 28, 2012||$82,000|
|Registered Physical Therapist||Achieve Rehab, Inc.||Farmington Hills, MI||Oct 01, 2013||$76,000|
|Registered Physical Therapist||Professional Home Care Advantage, Inc.||Calumet City, IL||Dec 27, 2009||$75,967|
|Registered Physical Therapist||Alpena Regional Medical Center||Alpena, MI||Apr 12, 2015||$75,132|
|Registered Physical Therapist||Omega Pt LLC.||Rochester Hills, MI||Dec 20, 2013||$73,045|
|Registered Physical Therapist||Omega Pt LLC.||Rochester Hills, MI||Sep 01, 2014||$73,045|
|Registered Physical Therapist||Physicians Homecare, Inc.||Lafayette, IN||Jul 22, 2011||$73,045 -
|Registered Physical Therapist||Alpena Regional Medical Center||Alpena, MI||Sep 20, 2012||$70,541|
|Registered Physical Therapist||Alliance Rehab, Inc.||Arlington Heights, IL||Oct 01, 2010||$68,871|
|Registered Physical Therapist||Achieve Rehab, Inc.||Bolingbrook, IL||Sep 17, 2015||$68,640|
|Registered Physical Therapist||Achieve Rehab, Inc.||Oak Park, IL||Sep 17, 2015||$68,640|
|Registered Physical Therapist||Achieve Rehab, Inc.||Farmington Hills, MI||Sep 17, 2015||$68,640|
|Registered Physical Therapist||Professional Therapy Solutions, LLC||Madison Heights, MI||Oct 06, 2013||$65,000|
|Registered Physical Therapist||Professional Therapy Solutions, LLC||Madison Heights, MI||Oct 07, 2013||$65,000|
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