Physical Therapist Physical therapists provide services that help restore function, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities of patients. They restore, maintain, and promote fitness and health. Their patients include accident victims to individuals with disabling conditions such as low back pain, arthritis, heart disease, fractures, head injuries, and cerebral palsy. Therapists examine patients' medical histories, then test and measure their strength, range of motion, balance and coordination, posture, muscle performance, and motor function.

They also determine patients' ability to be independent and enter back into the community or workplace after injury or illness. When injured, Physical Therapists develop a personal plan to bring their patient back to a full recovery. Physical therapist assistants, under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist, may be involved in implementing treatment plans with patients. Physical therapist aides perform routine support tasks, as directed by the therapist. Treatment often includes exercise for patients who have been immobilized and lack flexibility, strength, or endurance.

They encourage patients to use their own muscles to further increase flexibility and range of motion before finally advancing to other exercises improving strength, balance, coordination, and endurance. Their goal is to improve how an individual functions at work and home. Some physical therapists treat a wide range of ailments; others specialize in areas such as pediatrics, geriatrics, orthopedics, sports medicine, neurology, and cardiopulmonary physical therapy. All States require physical therapists to pass a licensing exam before they can practice, after graduating from an accredited physical therapist educational program.

The National Physical Therapy Examination must be passed to be able to practice Physical Therapy. Physical therapists much prepare themselves by entering courses provided by the A PTC Physical therapist programs start with basic science courses such as biology, chemistry, and physics, and then introduce specialized courses such as biomechanics, neuro-anatomy, human growth and development, manifestations of disease, examination techniques, and therapeutic procedures. Courses useful when applying to physical therapist educational programs include anatomy, biology, chemistry, social science, mathematics, and physics. Before granting admission, many professional education programs require experience as a volunteer in a physical therapy department of a hospital or clinic. Physical therapists should have strong interpersonal skills to successfully educate patients about their physical therapy treatments. They should also be compassionate and possess a desire to help patients.

Similar traits also are needed to interact with the patient's family. Physical therapists are expected to continue professional development by participating in continuing education courses and workshops. A number of States require continuing education to maintain licensure. Average annual earnings of physical therapists were $54, 810 in 2000.

The middle 50 percent earned between $46, 660 and $67, 390. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38, 510, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $83, 370. Average annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of physical therapists in 2000 were as follows: Offices and clinics of medical doctors $58, 390 Home health care services 57, 830 Offices of other health practitioners 55, 830 Nursing and personal care facilities 54, 740 Hospitals 54, 430 During my observation, I observed Ph. D; Patricia Hunt and her assistant Michelle Marks.

During my 10 hours, over a three day period, I had seen 6 patients come in for therapy. Two of the patients were two that had been in a car accident. One had been partially paralyzed in the left arm, the other suffered from a fractured femur. The doctor had the patient with the paralyzed arm lift a small dumb bell from time to time, and she would occasionally switch her from the dumb bell, to a resistance band, the other patient with the fractured femur would sit in the "drum" (a swimming pool) and try to lift her leg up and down. The reason for the pool the doctors said to me, it would be the only way she would be able to move the leg without excruciating pain, and it offered a small amount of resistance. Two other patients were in there for the same thing, an ACL tear.

They both were doing exercises to strengthen their knees. They would use the baps board from time to time, but they were constantly using the resistance bands. They would from time to time also be taken to the "drum" and were to jog at a moderate speed in place, one collapsed in the pool once from the pain, the other patient was coming to an end of his therapy, he helped him out. Another patient had muscular distrophyin his legs from being in a sling from an accident on the job. He had broken both of his legs, and he had been in a cast for the past 3 months. When he arrived at the clinic, they allowed me to watch as they cut through the plaster casts.

When they removed the casts, they asked the patient to get up and see if he could walk, but his legs were so stiff, and shriveled, he couldn't make it 5 steps from the table before asking to be sat down. They put him in the "drum" and he was to kick his feet back and forth for about 30 minutes, then move them in a circum duction motion for another 30, then he would be strapped in low ankle weights and was to do 40, and 20 degree leg lifts for incriments of 3 seconds. The last patient was recovering from tendinitis she had in her deltoid in her shoulder she received from over exertions of throwing softballs. She would be asked to put her right arm to the side of her, and pull up on the resistance band, and hold it until her arm would give way. She was to repeat this for 15 minutes with incriments of icing in between. All in all, my experience with them was a good one.

I understand the patience, time, and dedication needed to be a physical therapist, because it is a very demanding job, both physical, and mental.