A licensed physical therapist helps people recover from injuries and illnesses. They use a variety of techniques - such as exercise, electrical stimulation, massage, and hot or cold compresses - to help patients with injuries or chronic conditions improve their range of movement, restore function, learn how to adjust to disabilities, and manage pain. Licensed physical therapists often specialize in a specific discipline, such as sports medicine, geriatrics, pediatrics, orthopedics, neurology, or cardiopulmonary physical therapy.
Depending on their specialization, licensed physical therapists may work in hospitals, schools, clinics, or private practice. Most full-time licensed physical therapists work a 40-hour week, meeting with multiple patients a day; however, working weekends or evenings is not unusual. At larger institutions, a licensed physical therapist may deal with a group of patients at the same time, delegating tasks to physical therapy assistants. Licensed physical therapists also function as members of a team alongside doctors and surgeons, who consult with each other to effectively develop treatment strategies.
To become a licensed physical therapist, a master’s degree from an accredited program of physical therapy or physiotherapy is required. However, a doctorate in physical therapy is quickly becoming the new standard. In the U.S., state licensing is required to legally practice as a physical therapist. To obtain the license, prospective physical therapists must pass exams after obtaining their degree in physical therapy. Licensed physical therapists are expected to continue to attend conferences and keep track of new developments, techniques, and technologies throughout their career.
Licensed Physical Therapist (LPT) Tasks
- Administer manual exercises, massage or traction to help relieve pain, increase patient strength or decrease or prevent deformity.
- Perform an initial exam, evaluate medical records and physician's referral and determine a diagnosis prior to intervention.
- Record prognosis, treatment, response and progress in patient's chart or computer database.
- Discharge patient from physical therapy when projected outcomes have been attained and provide for follow-up care or referrals.