Physical Therapy is a dynamic and ever changing field. Physical therapists are health care professionals who examine, diagnose, and provide interventions for people with a variety of impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities. Physical therapists assess the musculoskeletal, neurological, integumentary, cardiopulmonary, and other systems of the body. In consultation with the patient or client, therapists develop goals based on examination findings and individual needs. Physical therapists screen patients for medical conditions and may refer patients to other health professionals. Physical therapists also work in wellness, health promotion, and disease prevention settings.
Physical therapy is a people-oriented profession. Physical therapists have many opportunities to improve the quality of their clients' lives. Physical therapists must have excellent observational skills, psychomotor skills, cultural awareness, and clinical decision making abilities.
Physical therapists are involved with restoring function and independence at all levels. Examples include: helping someone to walk again following a stroke, helping a child to develop head control, or helping athletes return to their sport. Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, community health centers, private physical therapy offices, community health centers, sports facilities, rehabilitation centers, clients' homes, schools, pediatric centers, and academic institutions. Physical therapists can also teach, conduct research, engage in scholarly activity, and provide community service.
Physical therapists are valuable members of the interprofesional health care team, who work with physicians, dentists, podiatrists, occupational therapists, nurses, speech and hearing professionals, psychologists, social workers and other health professionals. Patients come to physical therapists directly or by referral from physicians, podiatrists, or dentists depending upon the jurisdiction. New Jersey is one of the many states that allows for direct access to physical therapy services.
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is the professional organization for physical therapists. The APTA provides information about the profession and accredited educational programs. For further information, contact the APTA at 1-800-999-APTA. The APTA web site is a valuable source of information on the profession of physical therapy.
The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy ( http://www.fsbpt.org/ ) is the professional organization that represents the individual jurisdictions who license physical therapists. For further information pertaining to physical therapy licensure, please visit their web site.