Registered physical therapists provide rehabilitation and treatment therapies to patients with chronic conditions or acute injuries; treatments and therapies may include gait training, mobility exercises, and strength conditioning exercises. Registered physical therapists may also utilize specialized exercises, hot-and-cold therapy, and electro-therapy to restore bodily functions, increase mobility, and reduce pain. Patients generally include surgical patients, accident victims, and disabled persons.
Those in this position may treat patients with conditions including back pain, arthritis, and broken bones. They also teach patients to perform medical exercises at home and use devices such as crutches and wheelchairs to aid in recovery.
Registered physical therapists must possess a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree. Admission into the Doctorate program is competitive and requires a strong undergraduate science background; volunteer work may also be required for admission. To become registered, a physical therapy graduate must pass a national exam, become licensed in the state in which they work, and graduate from an accredited physical therapy program.
Registered physical therapists work in a variety of settings, from private medical offices and clinics to hospitals, schools, and nursing homes. They spend a majority of their time on their feet working in close proximity with patients. A career as a registered physical therapist is physically-demanding, and requires heavy lifting, bending, kneeling, and movement of heavy equipment in addition to patient care. Travel between facilities may be required on occasion. Most registered physical therapists work standard 40-hour weeks, but some weekends and holidays may be required.
Registered Physical Therapist 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.