Thursday, 5 July 2012

Starting a Career in Physiotherapy

Physiotherapists, commonly referred to as physical therapists, diagnose and treat patients having difficulties with mobility or physical movement. Patients often visit the physiotherapist at the recommendation of their health care provider. After an initial assessment, therapists develop an individualized care plan, which indicates the patient’s diagnosis, treatment options and short and long term goals along with progress notes. Physical therapists often visit patients in hospitals and nursing homes. When able, patients also visit physical therapy clinics. Physiotherapist wages vary depending on years of experience and occupation location. On average, physiotherapists earn $25.00 to $38.00 an hour.

Occupation Description

A physical therapist uses years of professional medical training in treating patients of all ages who suffer limited movement because of illness, injury or the natural aging process. Working alongside other members of the health care team, therapists initially review the patient’s medical history and visit with the patient before performing a physical assessment. Therapists then assess patients by having them demonstrate the specific problem while evaluating muscle strength and range of movement along with any signs of discomfort.

The various treatment modalities include massage, heat, hydrotherapy and simple exercises. Massage, heat and other varied treatments encourage muscle relaxation and increase blood circulation in affected limbs. Exercises improve balance, extend range of motion and increase muscle strength. Physiotherapists might also recommend the use of braces, crutches or wheelchairs along with other assistive devices. After receiving training from the therapist concerning the use of these devices, patients gain increased independence and greater mobility.

Therapists treat patients having a wide range of physical difficulties including athletes suffering from sports injuries, elderly patients experiencing limited function after suffering from a stroke, or individuals with chronic syndromes that include cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis.

General Requirements

Excellent communication skills are a must as therapists work directly with many members of the health care team, patients and their families. Physiotherapists also possess compassion, empathy and patience. Seeing many patients throughout the day, and sometimes in numerous locations means physical therapists must manage their time wisely. In working with patients who hope to attain function and mobility goals, therapists usually generate a positive attitude and the ability to stir confidence, courage and motivation.

Educational Requirements

Becoming a physiotherapist initially requires a bachelor’s degree with a major in the health sciences. Therapists generally need anatomy, physiology and biology along with chemistry and physics. Acceptance into a physiotherapy program evolves around grade point average and any previous experience. Some students work as a physical therapy assistant prior to schooling. Acceptance boards also review community service work and letters of recommendation from professional therapists and other health care providers.

After entering physiotherapist programs, students combine classroom lectures and studies with hands on clinical training during the course of their education. Students have the option of obtaining a master’s or a doctorate in physiotherapy and may specialize in cardio/respiratory, neurological or orthopedic care. Therapists also require state licensure, obtainable by paying the state fees and taking a board exam. Physiotherapists must also acquire the recommended number of continuing education hours annually and renew licensure every two years according to individual state requirements.