An Analysis of the Field of Physical Therapy

Table of Content

The career that interests me is physical therapy. There are many different aspects to physical therapy. It is, defined as the treatment of physical dysfunction or injury by the use of therapeutic exercise and the application of modalities, intended to restore or facilitate normal function or development While doing research for my paper I talked to many people about the field of physical therapy. One woman said that contrary to what all the books say, she thinks that physical therapy isnt the field of work to get into because it is no longer a high paying career because there are so many therapists. On the other hand, a man that I talked to said that I should get into physical therapy because there is money in the field and that I would enjoy it.

Physical therapy puts to use skills that a person has learned to help someone get better. This aspect of helping others attracts me. In an attempt to learn more about this career, I arranged to do job shadow with Louie Greenwald, a physical therapist at Medical Associates Clinic with many years of experience, had lots to say on the topic. When I first went to Medical Associates Physical Therapy wing I was a little shaky. Louie was there waiting for me, he then took me to a nurse who filled out papers with me. After all the legalities were worked out she gave me a nametag and took me to where Louie was working with a patient. This was his favorite patient of the day for one reason. This was the last day of physical therapy for this man. Louie says its the best feeling to watch a patient progress to the point of being completely better. That was an inspiring beginning for me.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

Throughout my shadow experience, I was able to see Louie work with a variety of patients. Each experience was unique and helped me to see a slightly different aspect of a physical therapists job. The next patient we went to see had shoulder problems. He was in chronic pain. Louie worked with this patient on a personal basis, which seemed to be greatly appreciated, by the patient. This man received an ultrasound on his shoulder, a machine to use at home for exercises, and therapy from Louie. Louie pulled this mans arm around until he hurt but when the man left he said he felt better. Louie also recommended the Dubuque Orthopedic Chair for the man to sit in to improve his posture.

I realized the level of competency a physical therapist must have to be able to feel confident that the pain they put the patient in is good and necessary. Next Louie and I had a break while his physical therapist assistants were preparing the next patients to see the therapist. Louie took me to his office and let me sit in his chair. The chair makes you sit correctly. He says that if people sat correctly they wouldnt have so many problems with their back, necks, and shoulders. Louie invented this chair; the design is his. He is trying to work out a deal with Flexsteel to build his chairs for him. Until the deal passes he has been assembling them in his basement. The chairs are very expensive. Seeing this surprising invention made me realize that physical therapists may develop other skills related to their job, which could connect them to a sideline secondary career.

While on break Louie told me that therapists couldnt make a patient better; its all up to the patients and how badly they want it. Our next patient was a slacker. She never did her exercises but pretended she did. Louie says the physical therapist always knows when the patient is doing the exercises. She asked Louie why she wasnt getting better and what was he supposed to say? She had a window of opportunity for a limited amount of time for her knee to get better, and the window was about closed. Louie put her in a machine that bent her knee for her. The pain she went through all because she didnt do the exercises was so obvious on her face. When she left I asked Louie if that was the last time that he would see her and he didnt know. All he said was, if a patient wont do their exercises and what I tell them to do, I cant do anything else for them. Another thing I learned from Louie was that in physical therapy there are so many techniques and tools available for treatment. If you dont know the right one to use you could hurt the patient. For instance, for someone who tore their ACL, the first two weeks they put ice on the knee; from then on they use heat. Both ways take the swelling down, but if you use heat first the swelling gets worse.

Louies last patient before his lunch break at 12:00 was late, so we had some time to talk. I asked him how much money he was making. Although he wouldnt tell me directly, he said you only start making a lot when youve been at it a while. Secondly someone who works independently will make more money than someone who works for a hospital. Then I asked him where he went to school. He told me he studied in New York at a small school. He said he liked the small school atmosphere much better than a big one. Next I asked him if all the classes that they make you take in high school and in college are really important. For instance, chemistry is a really hard subject for me and I was wondering if its really important for me to do well in it in order to be a physical therapist. Louie said I need to work really hard on my biology and my anatomy classes. Finally Louie told me that physical therapists never quit learning. They are constantly going to increase their skills.

The learning never ends. Overall I was very impressed with the impressions gained through my shadow experience. (Job Shadowing with Louie Greenwald, Medical Associates West) Physical therapists must go through lots of academic and clinical training. A bachelors degree is the minimum requirement. Clinical training includes rotations at physical therapy departments to gain hands-on experience. After graduation from a program therapists must pass an exam to become licensed. Some therapists pick a specialty area and receive a specialist certification. Therapists assistants train patients in how to use devices and equipment. Examples of this equipment are canes, crutches, and wheelchairs. They also apply, remove, care for, and cope with splints, braces, and artificial body parts. (Career Discovery Encyclopedia page 51, Internet Arkansas State University Physical Therapy Programs page 6,7, Internet Physical Therapist Online page 2, From high school to work pages 448449. Reference: Encyclopedia of careers and Vocational guidance pages 109.)

Physical therapists work in hospitals, clinics, and private offices. They treat patients in rooms, homes, and schools. Most therapists work 40 hours a week. The job can be demanding on the body with stooping, kneeling, crouching, lifting, and standing for long periods of time. Sessions with patients could be brief or last one hour or more. (Occupational Outlook Handbook page 170, Career Information Center fifth edition page 118, From high school to work page 450, Encyclopedia of careers and vocational guidance page 109.) Physical therapists help people who have been injured. Since they treat people of all backgrounds they should be outgoing, caring, energetic, and unafraid of close contact. A physical therapist first evaluates new patients to decide what treatment would best help them. Therapy can last from a few weeks to months or even years.

As treatment continues, physical therapists document progress, have evaluations, and sometimes change treatments. Some days a therapist works with outpatients (patients who are released from the hospital), and some days they work with inpatients (patients who are still in the hospital). Some days they work with both of them. (Career Discovery Encyclopedia page 50, Occupational Outlook Handbook pages 169-170, Internet Arkansas State University Physical Therapy Programs page 1, Internet Robl, Stacie page 5, From High School to work page 447, Reference Encyclopedia of careers and vocational guidance pages 107, 109.) A therapist cant forget that the patient has feelings too. Patients feel hopelessness and lack of confidence. Assistants sometimes need to improve the emotional state of patients and prepare them psychologically for treatments. Assistants also have to work with families to help them cope with reality.

In physical therapy there are many devices used in therapy. Parallel bars, stationary bicycles, and weightlifting equipment are all used. Heat is used in a variety of ways; whirlpool, paraffin bath, infrared lamp, heating pad, or electrical currents are all used also. Wheelchairs, canes, crutches, orthotic devices (braces and splints), and prosthetic devices (artificial limbs and body parts) are all helpful equipment used in physical therapy treatment. (From high school to work page 448.) Employment for physical therapists looks good. Hospitals employed 1/3 and therapists working in offices employed of all salaried therapists in 1994. Physical therapy is expected to be one of the fastest growing careers through the year 2005. You can gain experience while still in school. Students may get experience by volunteering or part-time work at a physical therapy department in a hospital or clinic. (Occupational Outlook Handbook pages 170-171, Career Information center fifth edition page117, From High School to Work page 449, Encyclopedia of careers and vocational guidance page 109.)

Physical therapy doesnt only stay in the hospitals and in clinics, but branches out to the army as well. Primary responsibility is rehabilitation of patients. In the Army youre involved in all phases of treatment. Your practice could involve an amputee care as one part of your many responsibilities as compared to the field of sports medicine, where cases are not usually so severe. In the Army, physical therapists are respected and considered as equals to other disciplines because everyone works toward the same goal of helping the patient. Some helpful characteristics for those in military careers are the desire to help others, interest in developing detailed plans and treatment, patience to work with people whose injuries heal slowly, and the ability to communicate effectively.

Earnings and benefits for a physical therapist range a lot. A salary for entry-level physical therapists is $33,000 to $35,000. More experienced therapists earn as much as $48,000. Therapists who work for government earn less; the starting wage is $20,000 per year; the average is $26,400. On the opposite end of the pay range, the top 10% of therapists averaged $61,776, a year. Therapists who have a private practice earn considerably higher wages. Benefits for salaried therapists are paid holidays, and vacations, health insurance, and pension plan. Self-employed therapists must provide their own benefits.

The practice of physical therapy has developed as knowledge of medicine and human bodies have grown. The war accepted the use of physical therapists to treat war victims. The polio epidemic in the 1940s led to a demand for therapists also. The American Physical Therapists Association now serves 67,000 members. (Career Discovery Encyclopedia page 51, Encyclopedia of careers and vocational guidance pages 107-108.) Physical therapy is one of the fastest growing occupations in the U.S. due to the population getting older. More people in sports create a demand also. There are not enough physical therapists to keep up with the demand. Being a physical therapist definitely has its benefits. You get to work with people all day, you dont have to sit at a desk all day in front of a computer, and you dont have homework to take home at night. You also get paid well and get good benefits. While writing this paper I have learned that being a physical therapist will be fun, but also will be challenging. It takes a lot of work to become a therapist and a lot of school and money. If you want to become a physical therapist you need to be serious about what you do and always be thinking ahead. Doing this paper has made me excited about my being a physical therapist. I hope that in the future things stay how they are now so I have the advantages that people have had ahead of me. My future plans are to attend the University of Iowa and study there to become a physical therapist.

Cite this page

An Analysis of the Field of Physical Therapy. (2022, May 07). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront