A large variety of illnesses, disabilities, accidents, injuries, and medical conditions in general, might have a serious impact on a person’s life.
These circumstances that can be unexpected, present a great challenge in the daily routines, habits, normal development, and independence of any individual.
Physical Therapy is a discipline within the healthcare field that helps patients to adjust and adapt their movement, and overall function, alleviate pain and regain their independence as much as possible regardless of their new circumstances.
In this area, there are two specialists, Physical Therapists, and Physical Therapist Assistants.
In the following sections, we’ll present some of the most relevant information about Physical Therapists, how to become one, and the cost of Physical Therapist School.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Physical Therapist?
- What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
- What Is the Difference Between a Physical Therapist and an Occupational Therapist?
- What Is the Difference Between a Physical Therapist and a Physical Therapist Assistant?
- Where Do Physical Therapists Work?
- What Do I Need to Become a Physical Therapist?
- How Long Does Physical Therapist School Last?
- How Much Does Physical Therapist School Cost?
What Is a Physical Therapist?
Physical Therapists are healthcare professionals focused on improving patients’ movement and general quality of life by offering personalized treatment, exercises, and education.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical Therapists have several duties.
The most common include examining patients, reviewing their medical history, providing a diagnosis based on the available information and previous exam, creating personalized treatment plans, helping patients with exercises, hands-on therapy, and special equipment, as well as offering advice and information to the patient and their family members about their present condition and future goals.
What Is the Difference Between a Physical Therapist and an Occupational Therapist?
These two professions tend to be confused.
Occupational Therapists focus on helping patients to adapt to their new living circumstances by modifying their environment, teaching them how to perform everyday tasks that are no longer able to perform, and using tools to improve their independence.
On the other hand, Physical Therapists center more on the mechanical and physical aspects of the human body that might be affecting or restricting a person’s mobility, balance or independence.
What Is the Difference Between a Physical Therapist and a Physical Therapist Assistant?
Even though these two professionals are both educated in Physical Therapy and work as a team, Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) have a more limited educational background compared to Physical Therapists.
This restricts their duties and responsibilities, thus they must work under the supervision of Physical Therapists.
PTAs assist patients with the treatment that has been developed by the Physical Therapist and provide general help in the managing of patients.
Where Do Physical Therapists Work?
Physical Therapists are able to work in several facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, private practice offices, home healthcare services, rehabilitation centers, and schools, among others.
What Do I Need to Become a Physical Therapist?
If you aspire to become a Physical Therapist, you must first obtain a bachelor’s degree, then enroll in Physical Therapist School, and after graduation, apply to acquire state licensure.
This is the first step in the path of becoming a Physical Therapist.
Ideally, you would obtain an undergraduate bachelor’s degree in healthcare, recreation and fitness, for instance, with subjects such as chemistry, anatomy and physics.
Physical Therapist School
After gaining a bachelor’s degree, you can apply to Physical Therapist School.
There, you will be awarded a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree.
These schools must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
The most common subjects in these programs are anatomy, biology, biomechanics, cardiovascular and pulmonary, kinesiology, musculoskeletal, neuroscience, pharmacology, and physiology, among others.
In order to have state licensure, graduates of a DPT degree must take and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE), which is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT).
However, it’s important to mention that requirements may vary depending on the state where you aspire to work.
How Long Does Physical Therapist School Last?
Physical Therapist School tends to last approximately three years when studying full-time.
Clinical residency programs are also available for Physical Therapists and can last up to a year.
How Much Does Physical Therapist School Cost?
The cost of Physical Therapist School is going to depend mostly on the city where you wish to study, and the type of institution you choose.
On average, you could pay from $20,000 to $65,000 for the three years of the DPT program.
The NPTE test costs $485.