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Job Description for a Physical Therapist

written by: Regina Woodard•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 12/15/2010

If you've ever been hurt, you may have gone through some physical therapy, assisted in your recovery by a physical therapist. But what is a physical therapist? How do they get where they are? What do they need know? In this article, learn what the physical therapist job description entails.

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    If you've ever hurt yourself, such as sprained or broken a leg or an arm or had surgery, a part of your recovery may include a trip to physical therapy. There, you will meet with a trained professional that will take you through some steps on helping to strengthen the limb or body part that you've had surgery on.

    These folks are known as physical therapists or PTs and their job is to help individuals get back their mobility or even become mobile when they hadn't been before. In this article, learn what the physical therapist job description is, who they help, and how they get to where they are.

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    What is a Physical Therapist?

    A physical therapist is a professional in health care that treats individuals and patients who have injuries, medical conditions, or health Job Description for a Physical Therapist related problems in regards to the inability of movement and flexibility that is lost or hindered by these conditions. PTs, as they are sometimes known as, work with patients in order to restore or prevent the loss of mobility after they have encountered an accident. For example, when I had knee surgery, I was sent to the hospital's rehabilitation center, where a physical therapist and an assistant led me through several exercises to strengthen my knee, such as walking on a tread mill and doing stretches with an exercise ball.

    Hospitals aren't the only place to find a physical therapist; PTs can also work in outpatient clinics and private offices. There are also some physical therapists who are self employed or who travel from hospital to hospital offering their services. PTs may need to be physically strong and able to withstand long hours in which they stand, crouch, and lift heavy medical equipment and even patients. Most physical therapists work a 40 hour work week, though some do work on the weekends in order to meet their patient's schedule.

    To study to become a physical therapist, individuals can choose between one of the two hundred and twelve educational programs that are offered in the study to be a PT. Students in these courses learn about foundational subjects in science, such as biology, anatomy, physiology, pathology, neuroscience, radiology, and more. The job outlook for physical therapy is growing, as are most of the employment outlooks within health care, and is expected to grow by 30% between the years 2008 and 2018.

    The average wage for a physical therapist was about $72,000 as calculated in May of 2008, with the upper 50% making upwards of about $85,000 and the lower 10% earning around $50,000 for the year. There are several subsets of being a physical therapist and thus working within the area of rehabilitation. Areas that are related to this field are that of occupational therapists, chiropractors, and recreational therapists.


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