Senior physical therapists help individuals who have experienced injuries or illness with physical movement and pain management. The range of patient conditions can vary widely from simple ankle sprains to leg fractures to ischemic strokes that have resulted in paralysis. Senior physical therapists design a program to increase function and allow patients to better be able to complete activities of daily living. This includes working alongside fellow healthcare professionals such as occupational therapists and speech language pathologists to plan and coordinate on a complete care plan. Then, senior physical therapists must work with patients to explain and carry out physical therapy in accordance with this plan and update the plan as necessary.
Senior physical therapists often work in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes and private medical offices. Their hours may vary depending on their employers' hours of operation and patient needs; for example, they may include nights and weekends. In addition to other types of care professionals, senior physical therapists often work alongside other physical therapists in the course of their day-to-day duties. Senior physical therapists may also have managerial duties.
To become a senior physical therapist, a bachelor's degree and a doctor of physical therapy degree are generally required; doctor of physical therapy programs generally take three years. Additionally, licensing in the state in which the senior physical therapist practices is generally needed. Skills needed for these positions include excellent patient care, communication and interpersonal skills, as well as the ability to maintain accurate patient files.
Senior 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.