General — 10 July 2012
What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy (or physiotherapy), usually abbreviated PT, is a health care profession that focuses on the remediation of disabilities and impairments. Other focuses include the promotion of mobility, quality of life, potential for movement, evaluation, functional ability, diagnosis and physical intervention carried out by Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants. Along with clinical practice, other activities involving the physical therapy profession include education, consultation and administration, and research. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is the governing body that is responsible for limiting the variation in physical therapy practices across the nation. As a result, the physical therapy practice act for each is state is directly affected by the APTA. The APTA also controls the accrediting of the physical therapy education curricula for the entire United States of America. Physical therapy practices have been found in many settings even in conjunction with other forms of rehabilitation practices and medical facilities. Physical therapists are capable of treating many injuries for patients of all ages ranging from; arthritis, neck injuries, strains, sprains, fractures. Another component of physical therapy allows for the treatment of birth conditions such as cerebral palsy. These different treatments are tailored to the specific patient because the treatment for a patient suffering from Parkinson’s disease who will have affected mobility will need different care from an athlete who is recovering from a sports injury. Physical therapists also serve in non-patient care roles that deal with peer review, health care administration, independent medical examinations, and health policy. Currently, the education curricula implemented by the APTA in the United States has most Physical Therapy programs culminating in a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT). However, depending on that start of their practice, some practicing PTs will hold a Master of Physical Therapy or even a Bachelor’s degree. The Physical Therapy curricula include areas such as screening, examination, diagnosis, prognosis, plan of care, and prevention. A Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) may assist in the delivery of treatment to clients if it based on a predetermined plan of care developed by a licensed Physical Therapist. PTAs attend a two-year program and receive an Associate degree from a curriculum that includes neuroscience, biomechanics, kinesiology, and clinical pathology. The employment opportunities for PTs and PTAs in the recent years have risen but will vary according to the state and region of the practice. Annually PTs earn on average $76,310 with their aides and assistants earning $37,710. Some specialty areas for the Physical Therapy profession include Cardiovascular & Pulmonary, Geriatrics, Neurologic, Orthopedic, Pediatric, Sports, and Women’s Health.

Today, many Physical Therapists are working with Personal Injury or Workers Compensation patients. These cases are usually done with a lien or LOP (Letter of Protection). Basically, the physician will see the patient and agree not to  request payment from them immediately. Instead, the physician will be paid his or her fees out of the settlement of the case. This type of business can be very profitable for the doctors, but also come with risks as well.

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