Physical therapy is a highly respected health profession. It involves a combination of exercise, massage, heat, water, light, electricity, sound, and a great deal of personal care in the treatment of people with physical problems.
Therapists help patients improve function and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities caused by injury or disease. Evaluation of a patient's abilities leads therapists to develop a treatment plan and then set into motion the prescribed therapies. As patients progress, physical therapists document progress and adjust the treatment plan as needed.
Some physical therapists specialize in areas such as pediatrics, sports medicine, geriatrics, and neurology while others are more generalized in the types of aliments they treat.
Physical therapists work closely with the client's family, physician, and other members of the medical team. Typical work settings are found in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, schools, home health agencies, private or group practices, specialized clinics, industrial programs, and health maintenance organizations. Most full-time physical therapists work a 40-hour week, which may include some evenings and weekends.
Physical therapists are in high demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that an anticipated 39 percent increase in physical therapy positions is expected by 2020. Michigan expects a 27 percent increase by the same year. Factors driving this trend include an increase in middle-aged and elderly individuals who are candidates for cardiovascular and physical disabilities as well as medical advancements that are helping more birth defect babies and trauma victims live longer. With high demand for physical therapists in most parts of the country, your career choice will allow you to establish yourself as a professional almost anywhere.