Health Care Research Paper on the Physical Therapy Profession

The Physical Therapy Profession

            Physical therapy is simply the treatment of physical complications through physical techniques such as body massage, exercise, and heat treatment among other methods. It relies on expressly premeditated exercises and tools to aid patients regain or improve their physical health (Scott & Petrosino, 2008). I opted to pursue a career in physical therapy because of my passion to help and work with patients with physical complications in a bid to reduce their pain and provide them with a sense of independence. I believe that by helping others regain their life back will help to develop a healthy society where people are able to do things themselves without having to bother others.

            Physical therapy started as early as 460 BC with its advocacy inclined to physical therapy techniques, body massage, and hydrotherapy in the quest to treat people (Swisher & Page, 2005). More advancement in this field was conspicuous when machines like gymnastic were constructed in a bid to take care of diseases such as gout through regular work out of the joints. The physical therapy profession started in 1813 when Per Henrik Ling founded the Royal Central Institute of Gymnasium in Sweden (Swisher & Page, 2005). In the late 1980s, the National Board of Health and Welfare officially registered it and this gradually spread to other countries such as United States, England, and New Zealand. Contemporary physical therapy became the norm in many countries at the dawn of the 20th century with rapid developments introduced in a bid to treat patients with more complicated physical disabilities (Clynch, 2011). This was helped by the escalating numbers of trained specialists in this profession in various fields such as massage, physical education, and curative exercise. The profession become highly important in the treatment of polio as well as during World War II where professionals were highly relied upon to administer professional treatment to injured soldiers and fighters (Dreeben-Irimia & Dreeben-Irimia, 2010). Essentially, body massage, traction, and exercise were the recommended in physical therapy with the inception of other manipulative procedures to improve patients’ treatment in as many hospitals and health centers as possible.

            Physical therapy has been on revolutionary mode as far as its career development is concerned with as low as 10 physical therapy programs provided to students (Hawkins, 2001). However, with the growing need of therapists and increased physical complications in the wake of polio treatment in 1940s, more therapy education programs were introduced for those who were interested to pursue physical therapy as their professional career. In the late 1950s, there were more physical therapy education programs incorporated and many professionals emerged (Swisher & Page, 2005). To assess their competencies, national examinations were initiated where professionals were tested and ranked according to their merit. More career advancements were visible in the mid 1960s when physical therapy practices grew to cover neuromuscular areas in a bid to equip professionals with the knowledge and expertise to treat patients with stroke, cerebral palsy, and other muddles related to the functioning of the brain. Further technological advancements in this profession led to a significant improvement in as far as career development in physical therapy is concerned (Hawkins, 2001).

            Education and training of physical therapists is highly valued across states and nations with emphasis put on the necessity to obtain a graduate degree in physical therapy from a qualified physical therapist course before taking part in a licensure examination that certifies their ability to practice physical therapy (Curtis, 2002). Meanwhile, internships are provided in a bid to provide students with the ability to apply what they have learnt in class into real life and earn a great experience. Besides, students are able to learn about medical care, food & nutrition, and the wide-ranging therapy procedures. That is, a physical therapy intern gives sustainability for medical staff, training, working with health care professionals to be able to learn appropriate techniques such as settle down techniques, disaster management among others in preparation for his or her professional career (Skinner & McVey, 2010). Their residencies are provided in appropriate areas where they can easily access their trainers and during their internship programs, they are normally housed in areas where they take care of patients such as injured athletes to help them recuperate. More importantly, a certified physical therapist must sit for a national physical therapy examination where those who merit are licensed and allowed to practice physical therapy anywhere in the United States (Curtis, 2002). There is no continuing education required unless stated so by a given organization.

            Typical wages and benefits for professionals specialized in physical therapy are significantly huge as such people earn a handsome amount of up to $ 80, 000 every fiscal year excluding other allowances (Scott & Petrosino, 2008). The future outlook and employment opportunities of this profession are also many because of the fact that the services of physical therapists are increasingly on demand as days go by, which increases the job opportunities among these professionals. For instance, in the early 2010, a population of close to 200, 000 professionals were employed and the figures are promising in the near future, which is projected to hit the mark of 350, 000 physical therapists come the year 2020 (Dreeben-Irimia & Dreeben-Irimia, 2010). Besides, there are those professionals who secure contracts in healthcare and physical therapy facilities ranging from 10 to 40 weeks where they receive attractive compensation packages for a job well done. These professionals are trained to work in various work settings including hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical companies, and physical therapy facilities among others (Clynch, 2011).

            The duties and responsibilities of these professionals vary significantly depending on their area of specialization. For instance, physical therapists that specialize in cardiovascular and pulmonary therapy have the duty and responsibility to provide quality care to a wide range of cardiopulmonary patients who may have complications while for professionals under the area of clinical electrophysiology assume the role of taking care of wound for their patients and providing other physical care management (Clynch, 2011). In addition, orthopedic physical therapists provide services related with musculoskeletal system care, which ensure proper treatment, diagnosis, and management of complications and injuries sustained by their patients especially providing care to patients after undergoing orthopedic surgery. Other professionals are specialized in the area of sports to provide acute care, treatment, psychotherapy, prevention, and education to injured athletes to help them go successfully through their recuperation (Scott & Petrosino, 2008).

            Again, their area of specialization dictates the nature of clients or patients that they are supposed to attend to. For instance, a professional physiological therapist specialized in sports will in most cases provide services to injured athletes while a pediatrician is most likely to receive a wide array of patients ranging from children to adolescents and adults depending on the inherent pediatric complications (Dreeben-Irimia, 2010). On the other hand, women’s health physical therapy will only require the service of a physical therapist with skills and expertise in this area. The working conditions for physical therapists also vary depending on the work settings but on the whole, high standards of hygiene and work environment to be able to administer proper care to their patients whether in private offices, outpatient clinics or in hospital.


Clynch, H. (2011). The Role of the Physical Therapist Assistant: Regulations and Responsibilities. New York: F.A. Davis.

Curtis, K. A. (2002). Physical Therapy Professional Foundations: Keys to Success in School and Career. Thorofare: SLACK Incorporated.

Dreeben-Irimia, D. D., & Dreeben-Irimia, O. (2010). Introduction to Physical Therapy for Physical Therapist Assistants. Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Hawkins, T. (2001). Careers in Physical Therapy. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group.

Scott, R. W., & Petrosino, C. (2008). Physical Therapy Management. New York: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Skinner, S. B., & McVey, C. (2010). Clinical Decision Making for the Physical Therapist Assistant. Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Swisher, L. L., & Page, C. G. (2005). Professionalism in Physical Therapy: History, Practice, & Development. New York: Elsevier Health Sciences.