The Role of a Physical Therapist

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July 15th, 2009

Physical therapists are healthcare professionals who diagnose and treat patients that have medical problems, health-related conditions, disorders, or injuries that limit their abilities to move and function properly. They assist their patients in rehabilitation efforts to be able to move and perform basic activities associated with everyday life. Physical therapists work with people of all ages, from newborns to the elderly population. Physical therapists play a large role in the healthcare field, as they are often sought after for rehabilitation efforts after surgeries, sports injuries, and health related conditions that have physically affected patients.

Physical therapists, also known as PTs, examine their patients individually and develop a rehabilitation plan using treatments and techniques to promote mobility, reduce pain, and prevent further or more severe damage. Physical therapists work with patients who have problems resulting from back and neck injuries, burns, sprains and fractures, amputations, work and sports related injuries, and bone and muscle conditions. Additionally, physical therapists also work with patients to prevent loss of mobility before it occurs, by promoting health and wellness, as well as an active lifestyle. The therapy they use comes in many forms including aquatic rehabilitation, therapeutic exercise, manual therapy, and the use of assistive and adaptive devices.

PTs work in a number of different settings including hospitals, clinics, private offices, and some offer home health services. PTs work with a number of other professionals as well including physicians, nurses, social workers, educators, and speech pathologists. They must demonstrate patience and compassion towards patients, and be able to stand for long periods of time. PTs also need to have strong communicational skills, as they need to educate and explain to patients their conditions and treatment plans. Additionally, PTs need to be physically fit as they will often assist patients in their movement efforts, move equipment that can be heavy, and assist patients in standing, walking, and moving.

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