As the name suggests, physical therapy helps people regain their physical abilities that they might have lost through injury or disease. PT may be used to treat many conditions, including back pain, arthritis, strokes, spinal cord injuries and burns. It may also be useful for infants with developmental disabilities or older persons who have balance problems or trouble getting around because of limb loss.
A PT examines your injury, symptoms and medical history before creating a treatment plan that includes goals for how much you want to improve and your therapist’s suggestions for exercises or other treatments to reach those goals. PTs often work with a physiotherapist assistant, or PTA, who is educated and licensed to assist them in providing care.
In addition to helping patients regain physical capabilities, a good PT can teach them about how to prevent future injuries by recommending different ways of moving that are generally safe and that do not aggravate a patient’s specific injury or condition. This is important for people who have chronic back pain or those recovering from surgery on a specific part of their body.
Working as a physical therapist is mentally demanding, and it can be stressful to see people struggle with their losses of mobility. You must be able to help them get past their frustration and discouragement, especially when they have a hard time believing that they will recover. You must be strong and physically fit to help patients with active exercise sessions, and you are likely on your feet all day.