after an illness, accident, or surgery, physical therapists are the healthcare professionals who help patients (literally!) get back on their feet. they serve an essential role in recovery and ongoing care. here is some information on how to become a physical therapist as well as additional information you need to know.
physical therapists (or pts) work with patients or clients to help restore/improve mobility, develop fitness, relieve pain, and come up with short- and long-term exercise plans.
their duties may include:
- working with doctors and other healthcare professionals
- reviewing patient histories
- testing strength, range of motion, balance, coordination, posture, muscle performance, respiration, and motor function
- diagnose physical problems
- develop a care plan that incorporates physical exercises
- evaluate patients over a period of time
- determine when patients can return to normal routines
pts typically work a standard 40-hour week, but that can include evenings and weekends, depending on the setting. physical therapists can be found in many different healthcare settings, including hospitals, private clinics, schools, sports and fitness facilities, nursing homes, and health agencies.
also, physical therapists should be in decent shape themselves—this is a role that requires physically demanding activities like stooping, sitting, standing for long periods of time, and lifting equipment (or even patients, if the need arises).
for more on what it’s like to be a physical therapist, check out the following video.
physical therapist: a day in the life
you can also read testimonials from physical therapists about why they went into the field, via the american physical therapy association’s “defining moment” column.
in addition to completing an accredited physical therapy program (typically four years), candidates need to pass a national exam and meet their state’s licensing requirements. for more information on the exam and the pt licensing process in general, visit the federation of state boards of physical therapy.
the median salary for physical therapists is $82,390 per year, or $39.61 per hour, per the u.s. bureau of labor statistics.
possibly fueled by the aging baby boomer population, the need for physical therapists is expected to surge by an amazing 34% by 2024. physical therapy was also ranked as one of the “top 10 happiest jobs” by forbes.
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