If you have been thinking of becoming a physical therapist, then it is important that you ascertain what physical therapy industries there are in order to decide in which line you should go. A physical therapist is essentially a professional who treats patients for a variety of conditions, including manipulation of joints or massaging muscles in order to improve motion, mobility, proper movement and function.
Physical therapists work in many different physical therapy industries as the work that they do is quite varied, and different modalities of treatment are used for different purposes. A PTs duties include diagnosing patients’ dysfunctional movements, setting up a plan outlining the patient’s goals and planned treatments, using hands-on therapy, exercises, stretching maneuvers, and various technological and other equipment to ease pain increase the patient’s ability to move. They evaluate the patient’s progress, modifying treatment plans and trying different treatments as required. They also educate the patient and, where necessary, their families, as to what to expect during recovery from illness or injury, and how best to cope with what occurs.
Various Physical Therapy Industries
Many physical therapists work in hospitals, but the majority of them work in various others physical therapy industries such as:
Physical therapists who work in this type of setting care for patients who have been admitted to hospital for short-term care and to recuperate from illnesses, accidents, surgery or trauma. A physical therapist’s goal in these circumstances is the speedy recovery and discharge of the patient.
Extended Care Facility /Nursing Home/Skilled Nursing Facility
This is where individuals who are typically elderly patients that require long-term rehabilitation, nursing care and other services are admitted.
This is a growing segment of the ever-increasing physical therapy industries, and is where the physical therapy is provided to the patient in their own place of residence. Most of these patients are senior citizens who require physical therapy, but there are also many pediatric patients with developmental disabilities and other conditions who require this type of care. Home-care does not necessarily need to be provided in the patient’s home, but can also be done in a hospital emergency room, a residential facility, the caregiver’s home, a skilled nursing facility, a group home, or elsewhere in the community where the patient may be resident.
A hospice is a facility where individuals go when they are in the end phase or the last phases of an incurable disease such as AIDS, Cancer, or a host of other terminal diseases. Physical therapy is given to these individuals not to cure them but to assist them to manage pain and maintain functional abilities for as long as possible.
Industrial, Workplace, Or Other Occupational Environments
This is also one of the growing physical therapy industries as companies have realized that looking after the health of their employees is important for their bottom line. This is where physical therapy is provided to individuals either for the purpose of enhancing employee health, increasing productivity in the workplace, improving safety, or to help them return to work.
Local, State, and Federal Government
This is where physical therapists are employed by federal agencies, including the Indian Health Service, Department of Defense, and the Veteran’s Health Administration to provide physical therapy to civilians and military personnel.
Outpatient Clinic aka Private Practice
This is probably the most well-known of the physical therapy industries and one where many physical therapists choose to work. In this setting the individual visits the physical therapist in an office, clinic or other healthcare practice and is generally for therapy for orthopedic/ musculoskeletal or neuromuscular injuries or impairments.
Rehab/Sub Acute Rehab
- Rehabilitation Hospitals are physical therapy industries wherein a patient is admitted to a rehabilitation unit or facility in order that the patient can receive intense physical therapy of up to three hours per day in order to improve the patient’s ability to care for themselves.
- Sub-Acute Rehabilitation facilities are special hospitals or facilities that provide medical and/or rehabilitative care that is less intense than that administered at rehabilitation centers.
Physical therapists and other professionals conduct research into patient care all the time in order to improve the treatment methods used, patient care outcomes and support the body of knowledge in various physical therapy industries.
Physical therapists provide therapy in an educational environment, which includes pre-school, elementary, high school and vocational facilities.
Individuals these days are becoming more aware of what they need to do to remain fit and take care of their bodies. Physical therapists who work in these physical therapy industries are focused on wellness. This approach emphasizes the prevention of illness and injury rather than the treating of the individual after the fact. Physical therapists in the health and wellness industry promote a healthy lifestyle and can generally be found in sports training facilities and fitness centers, but are not limited to those facilities.
According to the US Department of Labor Statistics, the need for physical therapist is set to increase by a whopping 39% in the 2010 to 2020 decade, which is much faster than any other occupation. This is partially due to the demand expected from the ageing baby-boomers who are remaining active for far longer but therefore also require more treatment than previous generations did.
5 Most Common Types Of Physical Therapy
Although sports and accident related injuries is what most people think of when thinking about physical therapists, there are in actual fact five common types of physical therapy, all of which focus on different goals and purposes. Some physical therapists focus on one particular type of type of physical therapy and specialize in that whilst others do more general physical therapy.
- A Cardiovascular Physical Therapist works with individuals who have suffered heart and circulatory problems and the therapy generally concentrates on increasing range of motion and endurance. Patients with lung diseases such as cancer or cystic fibrosis usually see a cardiovascular physical therapist.
- A Geriatric Physical Therapist attends to the elderly and those who have trouble with the aging process. Individuals suffering from osteoporosis and individuals who have undergone extensive surgery or suffer from various types of arthritis generally see a geriatric physical therapist.
- A Neurological Physical Therapist is very specialized and requires a lot of knowledge and training in neurological diseases and disorders. Stroke victims and those suffering from Parkinson’s, MS, Cerebral Palsy and Alzheimer’s are treated by neurological PTs. The focus is on restoring limb function, dealing with vision problems and paralysis.
- An Orthopedic Physical Therapist deals with the musculoskeletal system, including joints, tendons, ligaments and bones and generally takes place in a hospital. This includes those who have just undergone orthopedic surgery, been involved in car accidents or suffered sports injuries. Modalities include the use of whirlpools, hot and cold packs, electrical stimulation, massage therapy, and flexibility exercises.
- A Pediatric Physical Therapist focuses on children under the age of eighteen who require therapy due to childhood illnesses such as development delays and spina bifida, or an orthopedic injury.
Important Qualities For A Physiotherapist
No matter whether you choose to become a generalist physical therapist that treats various types of injuries and conditions or choose to special is in one of the above physical therapy industries, there are certain important qualities that are required of a physical therapist:
- Compassion – in order to work with and help people who are in pain and may be totally dependent on others, or even in their last days, a physical therapist needs to have compassion and empathy.
- Detail Oriented – physical therapists must have strong analytic and observational skills in order to be able to diagnose the problem, evaluate treatments and provide their patients with the best, safe and effective care possible.
- Dexterity – PTs need to be able to use their hands to provide massages, manual therapy and the therapeutic exercises that may be called for in order to treat a patient.
- Interpersonal skills – a physical therapist spends their time interacting with patients and it is imperative, therefore, that they enjoy working with people and are good listeners and talkers. As a PT you will need to educate your patients, explain treatment programs to them, and listen to their concerns in order to provide effective treatment.
- Physical stamina – as a physical therapist you will spend most of your day on your feet, working with your patients, moving with them as they perform their exercises and various other physical activities.
Physical therapists provide care to individuals of all ages who may experience functional problems, whether those problems are as a result of sprains, strains, and fractures; birth conditions, such as cerebral palsy; amputations; back and neck injuries; stroke; arthritis; work-related injuries, sports-related injuries or a host of other conditions. Different modalities are used for different types of problems and can include applying heat and/or cold, massage therapy, hands-on stimulation, or the use of adaptive or assistive devices. No matter which of the physical therapy industries you plan on entering, you are sure to enjoy your chosen career and make a difference in many lives.