How do I become a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists identify the quality of life and movement potential of an individual patient with the aim of maximizing what is available . They are health care professionals who diagnose and treat conditions, including medical problems, illnesses or injuries that limit function, in other words mobility. Their aim is to prevent loss of mobility and improve independence. They consult with other health care professionals in the course of their professional life to achieve the best for their patients. They work with all ages from the very young to the very old.
What Qualifications are Needed?
A masters degree or a doctorate but be prepared for continuous professional development during your working life. An accredited course is essential to ensure the correct integration of theory, interpretation of evidence and practice is achieved. View a list of physical therapy schools.
The courses cover foundational science. Among these are; biology, anatomy, physiology, cellular histology, exercise physiology, neuroscience, biomechanics pharmacology, pathology, radiology and behavioral science. This is work done with evidence based practice and clinical reasoning. This suggests the work will appeal to someone with a strong science interest.
Because the work is physically demanding, often a patient needs to have limbs manipulated, the therapist needs to be strong and healthy, so good physical health for the therapist is important.
The work involves working closely with patients with a variety of problems. Sometimes the difficulties they have makes individuals react in ways which they wouldn’t in normal life. For this reason having strong interpersonal and communication skills is vital. Being able to deal with the fears the patient has and teaching them what is possible is part of the treatment. Being able to deal calmly and straightforwardly with badly damaged people is also an important consideration. For this reason the therapist needs to be able to address their own feelings about what they are seeing and working with.
The successful completion of this course is only the beginning. Physical Therapists are expected to have ongoing education to maintain their knowledge and keep up to date with the latest therapy. After qualification the Physical Therapist must acquire a license.
The Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education is the overseeing body for physical therapists.
What Areas Do Physical Therapists Work In?
There are numerous branches and the therapist can specialize according to their interest or they can cover the general approach to patient care.
Geriatric care, with an aging population, helps to keep older people active and independent. This might include treatment for arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and helping individuals adjust after hip and joint replacements. Balance is a problem for some elderly people and this can also be addressed.
Cardiac and pulmonary disorders, whether the person has had surgery or not, can be helped by therapy. Here the goal is to increase endurance and functional independence.
Integumentary, that is skin and related organs, is the management of wounds and burns. There are a number of treatments which include splinting, compression garments and exercise.
Neurological physical therapy can include working with patients with brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, post stroke and a number of other conditions. The aim is to restore independence and quality of life.
Physical therapists involved with sports men and women deal with injuries which might inhibit their activity. The aim here is to reduce the time they are unable to train and ensurie the correct treatment of the injury so that they are not incapacitated by it.
Women’s health is another branch of physical therapy. This can include post partum issues, pelvic pain, period pain and any other problems which a women might experience.
This is only a selection of the areas a Physical Therapist might encounter. There is great variety in the job in the different areas of disability and damage that people have suffered. In working with the public the Physical Therapist has the opportunity to help individuals to recover from damage and give relief to those who suffer from pain. There is also the pleasure the therapist can gain from professional knowledge which allows the them to give the help individual patients need.
This is a worthwhile and rewarding job which is often only appreciated when someone needs help, improves and is grateful. If attending class full time is not an option take a look at our comprehensive directory of colleges that offer online degrees.