Physical therapists diagnose, treat, and help maintain physical fitness. They evaluate every patient and develops a treatment program to address their specific ability to moving, reduce, or improve function, restore mobility, and avoid further injury.
The most common disabilities are those that result from permanent disability, aging, injuries, or conditions that make daily living difficult.
These conditions range in severity from minor muscle deficiencies to complete paralysis. Some physical therapists treat traumatic injuries such as athletes having concussions; others work with patients suffering from a stroke or a degenerative condition such as Alzheimer’s.
A physical therapist not only treats disorders of the muscles and joints but also those of the bones and organs. They use their hands and feet to assist patients with rehabilitating mobility. This practice helps restore function that has been lost due to an injury, disease, or aging.
A physical therapist is therefore skilled at many physical therapy tasks including weight loss, strength training, stretching, balance and coordination, and movement.
They can work directly with patients to perform exercises designed to rebuild strength and flexibility or they can provide therapy and education to their clients about the importance of maintaining proper body mechanics and functionality.
To be certified as a physical therapist in New York, a patient must undergo a series of clinical evaluations. This involves examining the patient, documenting information, and reporting back to the therapists on the findings. Often the tests required for certification require both diagnostic and therapeutic techniques in combination.
One of the most common tests a physical therapist may order is a variety of tests that monitor and diagnose symptoms of arthritis and other disorders. This may include x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and joint mobility and range testing (JMP). X-rays and MRI can be used to identify bone damage or mechanical issues that may limit range of motion and cause pain.
Joint mobility and range testing, in conjunction with x-rays, can reveal issues such as osteoarthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, sprains, strains, and more. All of these issues can be managed through therapy and physical rehabilitation.
A physical therapist can also treat patients suffering from more serious medical conditions.
Many physical therapy programs now include rehabilitation units that treat patients who have suffered strokes, traumatic brain injuries, and heart attacks.
Because strokes and heart attacks often involve the nervous system, therapy is used to help patients regain motor control and begin physical therapy so they can perform daily activities. Other conditions treated through therapy and physical therapy include cerebral palsy, diabetic neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.
A physical therapist job description also includes the tasks of pediatric, geriatric, neurological, orthopedic, sports, physical therapy recreation, and rehabilitation. Physical therapy in pediatric practice usually involves diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases and conditions associated with childhood.
Geriatric covers all age groups from infants to adults. Neurological therapy deals with neurology, which deals with the central nervous system; pediatric covers children from birth to adolescence, and rehabilitation covers individuals who have been injured or suffer from paralysis, serious illness, or disability. Each area of physical therapy has specific training requirements.
The job of a physical therapist involves a number of tasks including assessing the patient’s medical history, obtaining vital information about the patient, evaluating the patient’s movements, documenting the medical history, documenting the patient’s function, implementing exercise prescriptions, and evaluating the patient’s progress.
Physical therapists are also responsible for treating patients with conditions that affect their functioning. Conditions that affect the muscles, ligaments, bones, tendons, and other tissues of the body are commonly treated. Sometimes, it is necessary to use special therapeutic equipment to treat medical problems.
These include use of braces, cast splints, treadmill exercises, electrotherapy, laser therapy, and more.
In order to become certified as a physical therapist, one needs to pass a number of examinations, such as those from the American Board of Medical Specialties, the American Orthopedic Sports Medicine Association, and the Commission on Accreditation for Physical Therapy Education.
In addition, one needs to be licensed in his or her state. Some states allow therapists to have both a master’s degree and a license, while others only require a master’s degree. Some states do not regulate this field, while others have very restrictive licensing requirements.