Physical Therapist (PT)
Physical therapists (PTs) are healthcare professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, with impairments, functional limitations, and disability associated with the musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiovascular, and integumentary systems. (I.e. Sprain/strain, stroke, cerebral palsy, and burns) PTs are licensed in all 50 states, and the majority of PTs graduating today have a 3 year graduate clinical doctoral degree. PT education programs include foundational science courses, such as anatomy, physiology, neuroscience, biomechanics, pharmacology, and pathology, as well as clinically-based courses such as medical screening, examination tests and measures, diagnostic process, therapeutic interventions, outcomes assessment, and practice management. PTs examine each individual and develop a treatment plan using interventions to improve mobility, reduce pain, restore function, prevent disability, and promote fitness/wellness. These interventions may include therapeutic exercise, functional training, manual therapy techniques, assistive and adaptive devices/equipment, and/or physical agents/electrotherapeutic modalities. Some PTs focus in a particular area of clinical practice, while many are board certified clinical specialists in one of the following areas: cardiopulmonary, clinical electrophysiology, geriatrics, neurology, orthopaedics, pediatrics, sports, and women’s health. PTs work in a variety of settings including, hospitals, outpatient clinics, skilled nursing/rehabilitation facilities, home health, and school systems. 48 states, including Pennsylvania, allow physical therapists to practice without a physician referral. Consultation with a variety of other professionals, such as physicians, dentists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, educators, social workers, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists, is often an integral part of PT practice in order to provide comprehensive care for the individuals they serve.