What is a Physical Therapist (PT)

Physical therapists (PTs) are health care professionals who diagnose and treat people of all ages who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. PTs also help prevent conditions associated with loss of mobility through fitness and wellness programs that achieve healthy and active lifestyles. PTs examine individuals and develop plans using treatment techniques that promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. They provide care in hospitals, clinics, schools, sports facilities, and more. PTs must have a graduate degree from an accredited physical therapy program before taking the national licensure examination. The minimum educational requirement is a master's degree, yet most educational programs now offer the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree. Licensure is required in each state in which a physical therapist practices.

What is a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA)

Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. PTAs help individuals of all ages who are ill, injured or have a health condition that limits their ability to perform daily activities needed for life. PTAs work in variety of settings including hospitals, outpatient centers, home health, schools, work settings, and the sports and fitness arenas. Care provided by a PTA may include teaching patients, clients exercises for mobility, strength and coordination, training for activities such as walking with crutches, canes or walkers, massage, and the use of physical agents and electrotherapy such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation. PTAs must complete a 2-year associate's degree and are licensed, certified, or registered in most states.

Considering a Career in Healthcare?

Explore the rewarding world of physical therapy! As physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs), our members are an important part of the health care team and provide quality care to nearly 1,000,000 patients a day. Visit the APTA web site for more information.

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