The World of Physical Therapy

Table of Content


The world of physical therapy may seem very complex and intricate, which it is, but in this paper, I am hoping to give some clarification and history regarding a beautiful subject. There are many different reasons as to why people want to become a PT or PTA and my reason will be stated and how I immediately knew what I wanted in life.

The world of physical therapy may seem very complex and intricate, which it is, but in this paper, I am hoping to give some clarification and history regarding a beautiful subject. There are many different reasons as to why people want to become a PT or PTA and my reason will be stated and how I immediately knew what I wanted in life.

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Physical Therapy History and Purpose

According to chapter 1, some of the first therapeutic exercises came from the Taoists priests in China and was created around 1000 BC. They gave it the name Cong Fu. Fast forward to ancient Greece, which is where Herodicus and Hippocrates come into play. Herodicus developed a system of exercises called Ars Gymnastica. Now, Hippocrates was a man of many talents, which is why he is considered the Father of Medicine. He was also the first to use a torpedo fish as a form of electrical stimulation. In the second century, a roman physician, Galen concluded ‘moderate exercises strengthened the body, increased body temperature, allowed the pores of the skin to open, and improved a person’s spiritual well-being.’ He was also versed in musculoskeletal injuries and trauma surgery. Around the 1400s, therapeutic exercises reached Europe and they were integrated as physical education classes in schools. In the 1500s, Christobal Mendez of Jaen wrote and printed a book called Libro del Exercicio. Physical therapy did not reach the United States until the early 1700s. Nicolas Andry, a professor at the Medical Faculty in Paris, was the first to relate the movements created by exercises to the musculoskeletal system. He is the grandfather of orthopedics. Dr. Johan Georg Mezger developed the French terms: effleurage, petrissage, and tapotement; otherwise known as the Swedish massage. George Taylor introduced Ling’s Swedish gymnastics in American and it became very prominent in public schools. Now the inventions of machines that offered resistance were invented by Gustav Zander in 1864. During World War 1, the United States created ‘reconstruction aides.’ They used Zander’s machines to assist the disabled and wounded soldiers that would return from war.

The American Electro-Therapeutic Association was formed in the 1890s and the majority of its members were practitioners that were interested in electrotherapy and its research. Nikola Tesla introduced diathermy in the 1890s but it was not until the 1900s that it was discovered as being beneficial as a deep heating agent. Many different people influenced and contributed to the Physical Therapy world during the 1950s. Some of the great contributors were: Herman Kabat, Margaret Knott, Dorothy Voss, Robert Lovett, Charles Leroy Lowman, Leo Buerger, Arthur Allen, Paul C. Williams, and Daniel J. Leithauser.

Purpose and Mission of the American Physical Therapy Association

According to the American Physical Therapy Association, its mission is to, ‘Building a community that advances the profession of physical therapy to improve the health of society.’ The American Physical Therapy Association was not always called this, it had two names previous to this one and they were, American Women’s Physical Therapeutics Association and American Physiotherapy Association. The purpose of the APTA was to ‘establish and maintain professional and scientific standards for individuals who were involved with the profession of physical therapeutics.’ The APTA is made up of the House of Delegates, Board of Directors, two assemblies (student and PTA Caucus), 52 Chapters,18 sections, and districts. The House of Delegates is the highest policy-making body and is on a voting basis. The Board of Directors is comprised of 15 members and is under the House of Delegates. When it comes to member voting the PTA’s vote counts once and the students do not get to vote, being a member allows you to be in constant knowledge of what is going on regarding laws and legislation. The APTA is a voice for the PT community, they strive to protect and create awareness of the things that our profession goes through.

Purpose and Mission of Texas Physical Therapy Association

According to the Texas Physical Therapy Association its mission, ‘The Texas Physical Therapy Association advances physical therapist practice to optimize the movement, health, and wellness of people in Texas. The Texas Physical Therapy Association is in charge of all the sections in Texas.

Purpose of the Texas Board of Physical Therapy Examiners

The Executive Council of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Examiners (ECPTOTE) is a State of Texas agency charged with protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the people of Texas by supporting the Board of PT Examiners and the Board of OT Examiners as they license and regulate qualified practitioners of physical therapy and occupational therapy and register facilities in which those services are provided.

PT/PT Job Responsibility Comparison

There are a few significant differences in responsibility between a physical therapist and a physical therapist assistant. First, I will name a few and then I will elaborate on them. First, a PTA cannot authorize or perform a discharge of a patient, perform an initial examination, evaluate the patient, decide the type of interventions or establish the goals and outcomes for the patient. Aside from those things, a physical therapist assistant can do everything else a physical therapist can. The reasons for these things is that this is what differentiates the PT from the PTA.

PT/PTA A Education Comparison

For PTA’s, the amount of schooling and length is far shorter than that of a PT. A physical therapist assistant degree is only 2 years long and they focus on the ‘different types of therapies that exist, including deep tissue massage, mobility development, pain management, modality use and more. You’ll put these into practice with your fellow classmates, volunteers and in a clinical environment to hone your skills in therapy, patient interaction, and communication.’ While a physical therapist’s journey is longer and more in depth. They first need to earn their Bachelor’s degree, which will take four years in most cases, and once that’s complete, you’ll move on to an approximately three-year Doctoral degree in Physical Therapy. When studying to become a PT, you’ll learn a lot more about theory, diagnosis and optimal treatment options in addition to the procedural mechanics that PTAs learn.

PT/PTA Salary Comparison

As of January 31st, 2019, the average PTA earns between $41,000 and $51,000; while the average PT earns between $67,000 and $80,000. Of course, we know why there is such a salary gap and that is because of the amount of school. But the average amount that a physical therapist assistant earns is below the national level. If you check almost any other city in Texas they meet the national level for pay amount and some even pay a little bit more than what they normally would.

Projected Growth of PT and PTA Jobs

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median wage for Physical Therapist Assistants in May 2015 was $55,170. That’s pretty impressive for a two-year Associate degree. For Physical Therapists, that number jumps to $84,020. Both degrees are in high demand. The BLS reports a 41% jump in employment between 2014 and 2024 for PTAs, with 34% growth in the same timespan for PTs.

Acute Care Physical Therapy

Acute care is practiced in hospitals and the patients stay for a maximum of 30 days. They provide therapy for those that have had major surgical operations. They perform the therapy in the hospital just in case there is a major accident involving the patient then they have access to all the equipment they need. The pace is also very different from an outpatient clinic. In an acute setting, you constantly need to be active, alert and cooperative because in the hospital setting you are working with a bigger team that involves different therapists and doctors.

Outpatient Physical Therapy

The appointments are set up on a weekly basis. The time of stay can last anywhere from 4-8 weeks based on the injury. They have machines that you would normally see at a gym and in some cases, they offer aquatic therapy. At an outpatient clinic, you are working with a team of PTA’s, PT’s, techs, and aids. So, the difference is there are no medical doctors around. It also allows you to go at your own pace and you are able to do the exercise at home if they do not require a machine.

Skilled-nursing Physical Therapy

Skilled-nursing is also another term for Subacute care and is an intermediate care lever for medically fragile patients who are too ill to be cared for at their residence. They offer rehab on a daily basis and there are three types of SNFs: subacute, transitional, and extended care. It is provided 7 days a week for as long as the patient is told to by a doctor or until they decide it is not for them anymore. The physical therapist and physical therapist assistant work closely with the other medical staff on site.

School-system Physical Therapy

The school system is a bit different than the rest. The PT and PTA work with the teachers to help improve the student during school. The PT develops an individual education plan and it focuses on increasing the student’s function. This is on an appointment-based plan instead of a daily schedule. It is also the PTA’s job to explain how the teachers can help the student, for example, seating the student in a particular manner that way he can get the most out of the teaching.

Home Health Physical Therapy

Home health physical therapy is provided to the patient in the comfort of their home. A patient that receives home health physical therapy is typically not able to do things on their own outside of the house, meaning they do not have the means or opportunity to drive themselves to therapy. The patient needs to be evaluated every 3 to 6 week by the PT or depending on the patients status, periodically.

Personal Experience with Physical Therapy

My personal experience was great. It all started my senior year of high school during basketball season. So, my senior year was somewhat eventful, but not in the way you think. Yes, I had a whole lot of fun during preseason basketball but playing during district is a whole different atmosphere. Well, the practice right before our season opener I got injured. It was awful, painful and heart-breaking. I had a grade 3 ankle sprain according to the ER doctor but I’m telling you, it looked and felt like it could have been higher than a 3. After I found out the news, I was broken because that was my life, sports. I grew up as an athlete, sports and school were the only things that were constant in my life and now that one was gone, I broke down. I was on crutches for 3 weeks and in a boot for 6 weeks. It was complete torture not being able to do anything for yourself, everyone always asking if I was okay, or not being able to do anything but watch your closest friends play the game you love without you. Then I started rehab with the trainers at school and everything was going smoothly until it wasn’t. So, once I got off the crutches the trainer thought it was a good time to ‘milk’ my ankle, even though all the other trainers advised him not to. And I remember that day vividly because I was in excruciating pain for forty-five minutes. The next day the swelling increased and everything up to my mid-shin was bruised and I felt like I had just gotten injured all over again. So, my parents scheduled an appointment with my pediatrician and he referred me to a Physical Therapy clinic. That was the best thing that ever happened, I regained my strength and confidence. I might not have been able to play a single district game but I accomplished my goal of being able to run before the season was over. The relationship that I formed with my PT while I was in therapy was what got me through that tough time because, for the first time, I could tell someone my frustrations and worries without them having to pretend what they knew I was going through. They understood what I was going through and told me it was normal and natural to have those kinds of thoughts. That was the first time I ever had therapy done and I believe it was a real eye-opener to me and just helped me solidify that this is what I wanted to do with my life.

Motivations for Obtaining PTA License

My motivations for wanting to become a PTA is simple, I want to be able to give people a part of their life back if they have gone through an accident or injury. I want to give people back the confidence they think they have lost, just the way my PT did with me. I want them to know that just because they are going through this difficulty doesn’t mean that they have to lose everything they had before. And I know not all cases will be like mine but if there are some people that fell that way, I want to be the person that helps them realize that there is hope and they don’t have to go through it alone. The reason I chose physical therapy over all the other health professions is that as an athlete, there are different specialties that I could go into. For example, I could go into sports physical therapy or aquatics, and if I went into another profession, I would not be able to have a variety of options.

Job Expectations

The thing I will like most about my job is seeing the patients progress throughout the visits and being able to be a part of their healing process. Another aspect of the job I like is the fact that you get to work in a team of people. It is not just you doing everything by yourself, it is a group of people working together to reach a common goal. You depend on one another because therapy to me is helping anyone and everyone and that also applies to coworkers. The thing I will probably like the least is cleaning up bodily fluids like vomit because I have a strong stomach but for some odd reason that item does not apply.

Exposure Risk

I am not too keen on treating people with diseases but I know that as a future PTA you do not choose who you treat and I can accept that. Just because I am not keen on it does not mean that I will not treat the patient with the same respect and attitude I would give all my patients. I would not let it interfere with his recovery or my job. We are being to trained to be professional, not judgmental or to act superior because at the end of the day we are all human and we each have our flaws. I am sure that over time I will find no problem with it but as I am starting out, I feel I would be worried.

Interview: Emily Strickland

The student PTA that I interviewed was Emily Strickland. When asked about her expectations of the program, she simply answered that it was ‘everything you would expect it to be. It’s fast paced and there is no time for slacking off because it’s so much information that you are expected to know and apply it on a person.’ I am not going to lie, hearing that made me a bit nervous yet I was excited. It seems like a constant rush of adrenaline always learning something new or applying but it also seems stressful and tiring. One of the things the surprised Emily the most was the variety of patients and the different ways that certain exercises would affect them because not all patients are the same so having to come up with a specialized plan of care for each patient and their injury. She also told me that there is nothing that she would have done differently because then she might not have had the opportunity. When asked what advice she could give me, she answered, ‘Just have a passion for it already because it’s about your patients. Just have a passion for your patients.’ She plans to go into pediatric or geriatric therapy but cannot decide. She told me, ‘I’ll probably go into Peds because while she was interning at a pediatric clinic she fell in love with the energy of the place and of the kids.’ She also mentioned that I should embrace the little things because once you are in the program you miss out on a lot of family events or you end up going and all you can think about is studying and school. After hearing her tell me all of this I knew what this was the right career choice for me. Of course, I would not like to miss a lot of events like birthdays or parties but those are sacrifices that I would have to make on a daily basis.

My Personal Plan for Success

If I were to get accepted into the program, my academic habits would not change that much, it is my personal habits that would change dramatically. I would have to quit my job so I can have enough time to study and get homework done because I know it is going to be a lot but it is a sacrifice I would have to make. I would stay late after class and form a study group that was if someone does not understand a topic very well someone that may have understood it better could offer to explain it. I would start a meal prep instead of going out to eat that way I can save money for gas since I would be coming from Weslaco on a daily basis. I am sure that I will be missing many family events but that just means that when I am there, I will be enjoying quality time with them and not take for granted what I have. I would also have to make time to attend the gym but I would probably just end up working out at home for about an hour every other day. These are the ways that I would change my habits for the better if I were accepted.

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The World of Physical Therapy. (2022, Jan 13). Retrieved from

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