Physical therapy is a fast-growing occupation that focuses on helping patients recover from debilitating injuries or illnesses. These medical professionals are required to hold advanced degrees in physical therapy. Most physical therapy programs award a Doctor of Physical Therapy, while a few offer a Master of Physical Therapy. In most circumstances, a doctoral degree is required to gain work as a physical therapist, and all physical therapists must be licensed according to state regulations.
Throughout their academic careers, physical therapists study biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, neuroscience, and pharmacology. Students of physical therapy are also required to perform clinical rotations, enabling them to receive hands-on training, guidance, and experience for their future careers. Students who are interested in online degree programs in physical therapy typically coordinate clinical rotations with a local medical facility or office in order to satisfy these requirements. A physical therapy student may also choose to complete a residency program in order to acquire additional training or to learn advanced techniques in specialty care.
After graduating, physical therapists work in hospitals, private clinics, and other medical facilities where they help patients regain range of motion and manage pain. Physical therapists are very involved in each patient’s progress. After the initial diagnosis, physical therapists create treatment plans for their patients and coach them through exercises and stretches. They may also use equipment and hands-on therapy to aid in a patient’s recovery. Throughout the rehabilitation process, physical therapists track milestones and adapt the original treatment plans as needed. They also help educate patients and their relatives on the rehabilitation process.
Physical therapists provide care for patients afflicted by many different illnesses and diseases, but they may also specialize in a specific type of care. Common specialties include geriatrics, pediatrics, and sports medicine. Physical therapists may choose to receive a specialist certification in a specific area as a means of professional development and continuing education. There are many online certification programs for specialties in physical therapy available.