The goal of physical therapy is to help restore normal function after injury or surgery, and to provide strategies for injury prevention. Clients will work one-on-one with a therapist who will conduct a thorough examination and develop a plan specific to the needs of the client, that may include manual therapy or movement-based techniques.
Physical therapists are experts in movement, qualified to examine patients and develop treatment plans to improve mobility, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent injury. Treatment may include manual therapy techniques, various exercise strategies and patient education.
After a rigorous three-year graduate program with a curriculum heavily focused on the sciences, therapists must pass the National Physical Therapy Exam and a licensing exam for their state of practice. Some therapists continue in residency and fellowship programs or become board-certified in a specialty such as Orthopedics, Neurology, or Pediatrics. Physical therapists are the healthcare practitioners with the most specialized education to help people improve motion and restore function.
Physical therapists are lifelong learners. As part of requirements for licensure, they must earn continuing education credits by taking additional physical therapy coursework annually, throughout their career.
While many physical therapists are clinicians in hospital-based facilities or outpatient clinics, others focus on performing research to support physical therapy evaluation and treatment techniques. The field of research in physical therapy continues to grow, providing healthcare practitioners a better understanding of the value of physical therapy.