Physical Therapy, also known as physical therapy, is among the most complementary health professions, using evidence-based rehabilitation, fitness prescription, rehabilitation, motor development, electrotherapy, physical education, and massage therapy. It is also one of the largest categories of occupational therapy in the United States, and the third-largest category of therapy of all health care specialties in the nation. Physical therapists use rehabilitation as a means to improve function, decrease pain, prevent disease, and improve quality of life. Physical therapists also treat patients with muscular or skeletal conditions that result from injuries, illness, or trauma.
Physical Therapy is not intended to cure, but it is an integral component of wellness in the medical field. Physical Therapy helps patients build strength and flexibility by performing exercises and movements that build strength, coordination, and endurance. The term ‘physical therapy’ encompasses rehabilitation, diagnosis, and prevention of diseases such as osteoporosis, stroke, and cancer.
Physical therapy uses a variety of techniques and procedures, which include chiropractic, massage, therapeutic exercise, rehabilitation, balance and coordination, motor development, cognitive therapy and counseling, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and rehabilitation. Patients are taught basic therapy techniques, as well as patient education. A physical therapist may work with patients on an individual or family basis, depending on his or her skills and experience. Some physical therapy treatments require patients to return to school for continuing education.
There are many options to choose from when selecting physical therapy as an occupational therapy career. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is the largest governing body for PT. Its membership consists of all state boards of physical therapy, the National Association of Schools of Physical Therapy (NASPPT), and national associations of physical therapy education. Students and practitioners interested in learning more about physical therapy can find classes and seminars held throughout the country, as well as online resources.
Physical Therapy jobs may include pediatric physical therapy, rehabilitation of traumatic brain injury victims, elderly physical therapy, rehabilitation of musculoskeletal disorders, and orthopedic physical therapy. Many schools and colleges also offer physical therapy training as part of their undergraduate programs. In addition, certification in physical therapy may be achieved through a variety of programs.
Physical therapy is a promising career, but it does come with its challenges. Although the Occupational Therapy Practice test (OPT-APT) is required of all practicing physical therapy personnel, there are additional steps needed to become certified. These steps vary depending on the type of physical therapy job, but they usually include completion of an internship and passing written examinations, experience in a related specialty, completion of a national board-approved training program, and passing the certification exam administered by the National Board of Examiners for Physical Therapy Education and Certification.