The Ins and Outs of Physical Therapy Careers

December 29th, 2012 by admin

Physical therapy is a rewarding, in-demand healthcare job. Licensed physical therapists with advanced degrees, physical therapist assistants with associate’s degrees and physical therapy aides work together to help patients with rehabilitation from physical maladies. Although all three of these professions complement each other, they have different educational requirements and career outlooks.

Physical Therapy Aides

Compared to physical therapists and their assistants, aides require less training and earn less pay. However, physical therapy offices could not function without the assistance of aides, who are responsible for clerical work, therapy preparation and non-medical patient assistance. Aides are not licensed, so no formal educational requirements exist for physical therapy aides. Commonly, these workers gain experience on-the-job and only need a high school diploma or equivalent to start working. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for aides was $23,680 in May 2010, and most worked full time. The need for aides is expected to grow 43 percent by 2020.

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Physical Therapy Assistants

In most states, physical therapy assistants must have an associate’s degree and maintain licensure. To obtain an associate’s degree, classroom and clinical courses are taken. Mathematics, English, anatomy, physiology and ethics are some of the required classroom subjects; first aid, CPR and patient treatment are required clinical topics of study. After graduation, assistants must pass the Physical National Physical Therapy Exam to become licensed, and in many states assistants must take continuing education courses to keep their license. In the office, assistants provide direct patient care under the guidance of a physical therapist. While an assistant’s specific duties are determined by the therapists they work with, most assistants education patients on treatment plans and exercise performance discuss patient progress with therapists and assist patients with therapy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, assistants made a median annual salary of $49,690 in 2010, and the employment of assistants should increase 46 percent by 2020.

Doctor of Physical Therapy

A handful of schools offer a two to three year Master of Physical Therapy degree, but most programs award a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree following three years of study. Both options require completing an undergraduate degree. A specific major is not required, but most physical therapy schools require prerequisite classes in anatomy, biology, chemistry and other disciplines. During graduate study, students will learn biomechanics, advanced anatomy, pharmacology and neuroscience as well as completing clinical experiences. Some therapists pursue specialized training after graduation.

Once a physical therapist’s education is complete, they can work in hospitals, private clinics or nursing homes. Therapists might design a treatment plan for an athlete recovering from an injury, an accident victim having trouble walking after surgery or an elderly resident needing to stay active. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for physical therapists was $76,310 in 2010, and the need for physical therapists should increase 39 percent by 2020, largely due to the aging baby boomer population.
No matter what level of physical therapy training you choose, you’ll be headed for a career with great demand, high pay and amazing levels of career satisfaction.

References:

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapist-assistants-and-aides.htm#tab-5

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapists.htm#tab-5

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Area of Specialization for Physical Therapists

August 8th, 2012 by admin

If you are considering a career in physical therapy, you’ll find that beyond simply getting your degree and your certification in the subject, you will need to pick a specialty. Your specialty will determine what kind of work you do and who you will do it with, so consider some of these common specialties. The more you know about the different kind of specialties, the more educated your choice will be. Knowing these specialties will help you develop your skills when you attend one of the many Physical Therapy Schools in the nation.

Geriatrics
A physical therapist who specializes in geriatric is one who works with older people. They may deal with patients who have reduced mobility due to osteoporosis, cancer or arthritis, or who have injured themselves and require help with restoring balance and strength. In some cases, chronic conditions like incontinence can be aided through the use of certain physical therapy exercises. In many cases, a physical therapist working in geriatrics will be helping people regain mobility that they have lost.

Pediatrics
A pediatric physical therapist is one who works with adolescents, young children and even with infants. Depending on the patient, this type of physical therapy may involve helping the patient fine motor control or improving their sensory perception. Some conditions that a pediatric physical therapist my work with include cerebral palsy and torticollis. A pediatric physical therapist might also work with a child with developmental delays, who needs more instruction and more aid when it comes to mastering some motor functions.

Neurology
A neurological physical therapist is knowledgeable regarding disorders that affect the brain and the spinal column. People who have experienced traumas like brain injuries and strokes may need to reteach their bodies to perform certain basic tasks, though the need for a neurological physical therapist may also be caused by diseases like Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. Physical therapy in this field might also be used to treat vision problems and even paralysis.

Orthopedics
An orthopedic physical therapist focuses on the muscles, joints, tendons and bones. They are commonly the individuals that people think about when they think about physical therapists, and their specialty covers a wide range of treatments. People who require an orthopedic physical therapist may have just had orthopedic surgery, or they may have been in an accident that has impaired their movement. Some of the techniques used in orthopedic physical surgery include flexibility exercises and hot and cold packs.

Women’s Health
A physical therapist who specializes in women’s health treats women who have mobility issues with regards to childbirth and postpartum activities. Some of the issues that a woman might face after pregnancy include osteoporosis, pelvic pain and urinary incontinence. All of these issues can be reduced in intensity through physical therapy, and this therapy can take place both in the prenatal and postpartum stages.

Integumental
An integumental physical therapist deals with patients who have issues or diseases relating to the skin. This is type of physical therapy is not as well known as some of the other forms, but it is an essential part of the healing process for people who have suffered from severe burns and traumatic injuries. The skin must be able to respire, and it must also be flexible to allow movement. Many integumental physical therapists work with patients who have very recently dealt with painful problems, and they help the patient during the healing process by ensuring that the skin does not heal too tightly.

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