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Physical Therapy

About Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a rewarding and challenging career for individuals interested in patient care. Physical therapists work toward the restoration of function and the elimination of disability in individuals of all ages who have physical dysfunction due to illness, accident, or who were born with impairment. As an integral member of the health care team, the physical therapist is a skilled practitioner who evaluates patient status, plans, organizes, and directs patient-care programs and develops preventive programs for all populations.

Physical therapists work clinically in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, community and public health wellness centers, individual homes, private practices, industrial facilities, and for professional sports teams. The physical therapist may also assume a variety of other roles, such as educator in colleges and universities, researcher in educational or clinical settings, advocate for patients and/or professionals, public health planner, or ergonomic consultant. The physical therapist is legally and professionally responsible for providing safe and ethical physical therapy services to patients and clients, including evaluating, formulating, and implementing plans of care. The physical therapist is also dedicated to educating and instructing individuals, families, caregivers, and other professionals.

Demand for physical therapy continues to grow. The scope of physical therapist responsibility continuously expands, and there are many unexplored avenues for growth in the future. This responsibility includes oversight of all those involved in the provision of physical therapy, including the supervision and delegation of duties to physical therapist assistants, physical therapy aides, and other support personnel.

The American Physical Therapy Association's (APTA) vision for the field is that by 2020, "physical therapy will be provided by physical therapists who are doctors of physical therapy, recognized by consumers and other health care professionals as the practitioners of choice to whom consumers have direct access for the diagnosis of, interventions for, and prevention of impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities related to movement, function, and health." (www.apta.org).