Saint Louis University

Program in Physical Therapy

Careers in Physical Therapy

 Visit the website for The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) to learn more about specialization in the field. American Physical Therapy Association

 

Who are Physical Therapists?

Physical therapists are movement specialists. A physical therapist provides care for patients with movement impairments resulting in physical disability or pain so that physical and functional abilities can be restored.

Physical therapists also work with clients who want to improve their physical performance and fitness level. A physical therapist's duties include the examination and evaluation of patients/clients, the development and implementation of intervention programs, patient education and supervision of other health care practitioners. In addition to patient care, physical therapists may also serve as administrators, teachers, researchers, and consultants.

By the year 2020, the American Physical Therapy Association projects that all new physical therapists will need to have a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree (DPT) in order to practice. A physical therapist's duties include the examination and evaluation of patients/clients, the development and implementation of intervention programs, and patient education and supervision of other health care practitioners. This means that the responsibility of physical therapist practitioners for medical screening is increasing. Physical therapists must be able to recognize patients whose condition is not what physical therapists are trained to treat and refer the patients to a physician or other health care practitioner.

Physical therapists work with people of all ages who have a variety of injuries and disorders.

Some examples are patients with:

  • Acute medical conditions
  • Orthopedic disorders
  • Sports injuries
  • Pediatric disorders
  • Geriatric disorders
  • Cardiopulmonary disorders
  • Work-related injuries
  • Neurologic disorders developmental delay
  • Disorders that cause pain

Physical therapists work can work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Private practices
  • School settings
  • Community-based programs
  • Day care settings
  • Home health
  • Industrial settings
  • Military services
Physical therapists can also become researchers, teach as a clinical instructor or in an academic setting, provide information on prevention and wellness, and act as consultants.

 Employment Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a "faster than average" growth rate for jobs in physical therapy. Between the years 2008 and 2018, the Bureau expects a 30% increase in physical therapy jobs.

The Bureau predicts this increase because of the growing number of people with disabilities: a growing elderly population, a baby boomer generation entering the prime age for stroke and heart attack, improved survival rates for trauma victims, and the increasing survival rate of premature babies who have disabilities. There is also an increasing interest in health promotion and the prevention of injury.

For more information on the nature of physical therapy work, earnings, and job outlook, visit the following page on the Bureau's website:  Physical Therapy Occupational Handbook

Salaries
The average national salary for all physical therapists is $77,990.

For information on salaries on a national, state, or regional level click here.

 

 

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