Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist AssistantsPhysical Therapists (PTs) have at least a 4-year college degree in physical therapy. Many have master's degrees. In the year 2002, master's degrees will be required. After graduating, PTs must past a certification or licensure exam.
PTs evaluate (test) and treat people with mobility or movement, muscle, joint, pain or other health problems or physical injuries. They are extensively involved in the therapy and rehabilitation process after illness or injury.
The assessment process includes clinical interviews, analysis of movement, posture and flexibility, strength and reflex texting, and often the analysis of x-rays. Often physicians rely heavily on PTs to gather information about a patient's symptom severity and the bredth of the symptoms' effects on the patient's life. They are also relied on by physicians to communicate with the patient and to answer questions about illness or injury.
Treatments include exercise training, endurance training and training in daily living skills such as walking and more. PTs tailor exercise regimens for the relief of each patient's specific injury or illness, and train patients to perform the exercises on their own. They also meet with patients on an ongoing basis to measure their progress and to design new exercises and therapies to continuously challenge the patient as their strength, flexibility, and living skills improve.
Examples of PT in practice include strengthening a patient who has been bed-ridden for a significant period of time due to illness or injury, teaching a patient to adapt to serious injury, rehabilitating a patient who has undergone serious orthopedic surgery such as hip or knee replacement, and much more.
Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) work under the supervision of Physical Therapists. They assist in training patients to exercise correctly for their specific injury or illness and in treating patients in general.
PTs and PTAs work for college and university sports departments, home health agencies, hospitals, nursing homes and extended care centers, physician's offices, and in private group practice settings.