| All Physical therapists are college graduates and have extensive, professional training in the examination and treatment of musculoskeletal and neuromuscular problems. The majority of physical therapist education programs graduate students with a master’s degree, and a few schools offer a clinical doctorate in physical therapy.
All physical therapists also are required to take a national examination and be licensed by the state in which they practice.
Some physical therapists seek advanced certification in a clinical specialty, such as orthopaedic, neurologic, cardiopulmonary, pediatric, geriatric, or sports physical therapy. Others are certified in manual therapy or electrophysiological testing and measurement.
Many physical therapists are members of the professional association, the American Physical Therapy Association. As health care professionals, they are especially committed to providing competent and compassionate care, as they are bound by the Association’s Code of Ethics.
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|Physical therapy can only legally be provided by qualified physical therapists or by physical therapist assistants. The cornerstones of physical therapy are therapeutic exercise and functional training. In addition to “hands-on” care, physical therapists also educate patients to take care of themselves and to perform certain exercises on their own. Depending on the particular needs of a patient, physical therapists may also “mobilize” or “manipulate” a joint, or massage a muscle to restore proper movement and function. Physical therapists also use a variety of pain relief and healing methods such as ultrasound (which uses high frequency waves to produce heat), hot packs, and ice.
If you need physical therapy in the hospital, a physical therapist will be assigned to you, so there will be very little decision-making involved in that case.
For outpatient care, physical therapy can be obtained through hospitals, home care agencies, and in private offices. Your doctor or nurse practitioner can make recommendations regarding specific facilities.