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What are the Different Physical Therapy Careers?

By K T Solis
Updated May 17, 2024
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Physical therapy is a kind of treatment given to patients who have suffered injuries or have medical conditions that adversely affect the limbs. Several types of medical personnel work in physical therapy careers, including physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, and physical therapy technicians. These medical professionals work together to help patients restore or maintain movement within their bodies.

A physical therapist is someone who has earned a master's degree in physical therapy from an accredited university. He or she is responsible for treating patients who need therapy to relieve pain, recover mobility, or gain flexibility in their bodies. Physical therapists devise exercises tailored to each patient's needs. Each exercise is designed to improve a patient's ability to use body parts that have been injured or weakened due to injury or disease. The physical therapist supervises a variety of employees, including physical therapy assistants and technicians.

People who do not wish to earn a master's degree in physical therapy can still pursue physical therapy careers. For example, a physical therapy assistant is a professional who has earned an associate's degree in the field. Those who pursue a career in this field attend a vocational school or community college to earn their degree.

Physical therapy assistants supervise patients as they perform therapeutic exercises. They may give patients massages and treat them with heat or cold therapy as well. A physical therapy assistant is often responsible for a variety of clerical duties in addition to his or her other duties.

Some people do not wish to attend a college but still have an interest in physical therapy careers. A person in this third category might consider becoming a physical therapy technician. Most states do not require formal education to become a technician. Instead, many physical therapy technicians receive their training on the job.

They are usually closely supervised by a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant. Typical duties include keeping the treatment area clean and organized and helping patients move from one treatment area to another. Since a physical therapy technician does not have a degree, he or she earns less money than a physical therapy assistant.

People with physical therapy careers work in a variety of health care settings. They can work in hospitals, physical therapy offices, medical clinics, nursing homes, and other medical facilities. Those who wish to work in this field must enjoy working with patients. They need to display compassion for their patients, since most people who need physical therapy are dealing with pain and discomfort.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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