What is Physical Therapy
Physical Therapy, commonly referred to as physio or physiotherapy, is provided by a licensed and registered physical therapist, often abbreviated to PT. So what is physical therapy? It is a branch of health care concerned with evaluating, diagnosing and treating injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
The ultimate goal of physical therapy is to restore ones physical functioning to its optimal usage as in previous functioning prior to injury or otherwise, or to its maximum possibility post injury or condition given each individual circumstance. Each client is different and often goals are attained in a very short time and therapy is no longer required, however many require ongoing long term if not lifetime treatment.
Physical therapy deals with all age groups from babies to the elderly who have been diagnosed with a debilitating disorder or have sustained injuries from falls or playing sports. Generally the diagnoses have been confirmed by diagnostic imaging testing, x-rays, nerve conduction studies, etc. performed by lab or x-ray technicians. Usually it is a doctor who will review the lab tests and recommend or prescribe the physical therapy.
A physical therapist job description would start with assessment of movement potential in the client, possible conferring with other health care providers ie the client’s doctor to discuss diagnosis and options, and to formulate a care plan and goals. Plans would include any number of modalities to achieve the final goal such as exercise, massage, heat and/or cold packs, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, hot wax dips etc.
Physical therapy is a growing industry for many reasons. People are realizing that life does not have to be about settling for the inevitable as we age. Through physical therapy, the elderly can achieve more active and independent lives. Also many more employers are providing health benefits insurance which includes physical therapy to enable workers to be able to return to work sooner and in better health. Improved technology is providing newer and better techniques for treating disorders and injuries. Concurrently, diagnostic testing is improving providing options to those who previously had none.
Physical therapy has many branches of specialties such as orthopaedics, geriatrics, pediatrics, cardiopulmonary and neurologic. A physical therapist may choose amongst many environments to work in like fitness and sports training centres, outpatient clinics, private homes, education and research centres, schools, industrial workplaces, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, etc.
Choosing a career in physical therapy can be a financially sound choice as well. A physical therapist salary can range anywhere from $55,000 to over $100,000 annually. Of course as with any profession in the United States and Canada, salary will vary depending on where you work, which environment you work in and whether you are just starting out or you have been working for several years. Extenuating circumstances as well may play a role in the physical therapist salary, however these numbers are a good guideline on which to base your assessment of this career for its potential.