Physical Therapy Training

Throughout the span of a lifetime, most people suffer through periods during which their freedom of movement is constrained. For many, this comes from an injury. Anyone who has broken a bone is familiar with months of recovery time during which they must take special measures to perform the daily functions of life. For others, loss of movement comes from aging, disease, or even environmental factors. Physical therapists are the medical professionals who help patients help gain or regain the full range of movement in their bodies. They teach patients how to regain strength, provide therapy in the form of massage and stretching, and consult on further surgery. This is a job that requires expertise and training. There are several methods to get the physical therapy training required for this job.

Most physical therapists get their first taste of physical therapy training at a degree program. Physical therapists are licensed by the states and must attend accredited degree programs. For many this means a masterís degree, which takes two years or more of postgraduate study. Successful candidates may have chosen a degree in a related field, such as in the biological sciences. There are also doctoral degrees in physical therapy. While these take more than three years to complete for most, the extra physical therapy training they provide means a wider range of job opportunities for their graduates. All physical therapy students learn about the normal workings of the body through courses on the musculoskeletal system, human anatomy, and kinesiology. They also study the methods used in treating the body when its functions have been disturbed by illness, disorder, or age. These course titles might include pathophysiology and physical therapy for specific diagnoses. They may cover specific remedies, from orthotics to prosthetics.

On-the-job physical therapy training is an obvious and vital source of learning. Most degree programs include clinical practice, while many offer internships to their students. Credits are usually granted for internship programs, so they may last three months, six months, or even nine months. Work experience continues when a student works in a postdoctoral situation or is hired on a contingency basis by a hospital while pursuing a license. Work experience is one of the more valuable kinds of physical therapy training because students learn the needs of their employer as well as industrywide practices. Moreover, therapists can prove their mettle in real-life situations while having adequate supervision and backup in the form of their mentor or trainer.

Other valuable sources of physical therapy training are the various national associations for professional physical therapists. Professional associations are private entities comprised of members from the industry, including working physical therapists, professors, and administrators of physical therapy units. Associations offer their members valuable opportunities for continuing physical therapy training. First, they offer classes and lectures to their members. Some have online classes and classroom courses that meet licensing requirements for recertification. Others hold rotating conferences offering lectures on the latest techniques and best practices in physical therapy. Many associations offer grants and scholarships to their members to improve their skills and add degrees. Another important source of education is the publications associations offer to their members. Association publications keep members apprised of changes in government rules and regulations and give them articles by the leading lights of their profession.

Last Updated: 05/22/2014