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January 26, 2010

Where Do You Find a Physical Therapist?

Most states in the US have consumer choice (aka. direct access) with regard to finding a physical therapist. A good place to start is through word of mouth or the American Physical Therapy Association in order to find a therapist in your area. If your doctor refers to to a PT for therapy, they will often recommend someone who they trust to work with their patients.

Physical therapists can be found in many settings, some of which may surprise you. Some of the more common settings for PTs are in hospitals, immediately post-surgery or accident to get patients up and walking again. Many therapists can also be found in out-patient orthopedic clinics, often working with sports injuries and for care after a patient has been released to go home.

Home health care companies often out-source physical therapists for patients who are safely released to their home following a surgery, but are unable to tolerate being brought into an outpatient clinic.

Some out-patient clinics focus solely on the needs of children. Pediatric physical therapy is a subspecialty that focuses on children with congenital disorders (since birth) or long-term problems acquired after birth, such as accidents which result in spinal cord injury or brain damage. Pediatric physical therapists may also specialize in working with children while they are at school. They help the child move around in the school environment, create physical activities for the whole class that the disabled child can participate in. They may also suggest adaptations to the school environment in order to accommodate the child's disability.

Physical therapists can work in industry to help design workplace environments to prevent worker injury, instruct in safe work practices, assess whether a new employee is strong enough to perform a particular job or to strengthen them for a new task or return to work following an injury. And don't forget the ones who help manufacture orthotic devices and residual limbs for amputees and people with walking problems.

Physical therapists are present in a teaching capacity. Half of University Hospital's physical therapists teach in some capacity at our university. They also teach each other, doing in-service training on a variety of topics right in the clinic. PTs also teach other health care professionals, such as nurses and aides how to accomplish safe lifting techniques in order to prevent injuries to themselves and their patients. Like massage therapists, physical therapists are required by law to take continuing education courses, many of which are expert PTs in specialized fields.

Nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities have in-house physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech language pathologist employed to help residents transition from the high level of care in a hospital to a lower level of care at home.

Sports teams often hire physical therapists. Your local highschool football team may have a physical therapist on retainer for the care of their athletes. Your athletic gym, community recreation center, or wellness center may be owned by or employ a physical therapist.

One of the reasons I decided to transition from massage therapy to physical therapy was in order to expand my options for the places that I could work and the people that I could treat.

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Posted by linda at January 26, 2010 4:55 PM

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