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Physical Therapist by Amanda Wibben
Project Name : Physical Therapist by Amanda Wibben
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Amanda Wibben's Physical Therapy Report
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Physical Therapy (PT) helps people who have been injured or disabled physically.  Its purpose is to improve mobility and strengthen muscles to heal as well as prevent injuries. Different techniques such as stretching and strengthening exercises may be commonly used by physical therapists. Most patients of PT are elderly or have recently been hurt in an accident (Sears, 2011b, 2).  Becoming a physical therapist involves many years of schooling, however the earnings of this job are excellent (Anonymous, 2011b, 1).

A physical therapist helps heal patients' injuries. Some physical therapists specialize in certain categories of PT such as sports injuries or particular age categories. The main goal of PT though, no matter the patient, is to increase mobility while gaining flexibility and strength. There are many ways a physical therapist achieves these goals. Stretching is a common aid during PT as well as working on strengthening muscles around or on an injured area. Ultrasound and electric stimulation are less common in PT but also helpful during the healing process (Anonymous, 2009b, 4).  Physical therapists have to be familiar with injuries that can occur all over the body. Common injuries or strains on muscles include shin splints, plantar fasciitis, piriformis syndrome, patellofemoral stress syndrome, and iliotibial band syndrome. These ailments are usually caused by running (Sears, 2011a, 1).  Other common injuries include ankle sprains, pulled muscles, and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries (Inverarity, 2008a, 1).  PT can assist in relieving things like muscle, joint, and back pains too. 

Exercise is a regular technique during PT because it helps with all the necessary features involved in healing. There are different types of exercise. Manual exercise involves only using the body, mostly the hands, to relax muscles, lessen pain, and gain flexibility. This includes: massaging, a technique where pressure is applied to reduce pain; mobilizing, where slow movements adjust muscles into the correct position; and manipulation, a method where quick, aggressive movements position bones and muscles. Other forms of PT exercise benefit the body in the same way, but they involve machinery or other props like swimming or weightlifting.  PT techniques have to be used at home too, therefore a physical therapist also has to teach their patients how to correctly and safely execute exercises at home (Anonymous, 2009b, 3).

Becoming a physical therapist requires vigorous time and effort as well as a proper education. It is recommended to volunteer at a physical therapy facility before actually starting to work towards the occupation. This is because it may help with obtaining a letter of recommendation for a college application, or volunteer hours may be required on an application. For schooling, a masters and doctorate degree for PT are offered at many colleges. Many schools offer a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree instead because it is similar to a doctorate degree, but more aimed for strictly physical therapy. Keep in mind though, these courses cost more depending on the college, and certain accredited colleges may offer a better education for the job. Plus, well known colleges are more likely to have a higher fee (Inverarity, 2008b1). A post-baccalaureate degree is also necessary to be properly educated as a physical therapist (Anonymous, 2011b, 3). A state license is required too, but those must be attained after graduating from a PT school with a degree (Williams, 2010, 1).  Other skills such as a natural ability to communicate with patients are necessary in order to become a successful physical therapist (Anonymous, 2009a4).

Many colleges offer a physical therapy course. In Rochester, at the Mayo School of Health Sciences, a thirty-three month PT program is offered. The course is eight-hours a day, five days a week. A Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree is given once the course is completed, along with eligibility to take the national licensure exam. "The Mayo site is among the largest, most advanced medical centers in the world" (Anonymous, 2011a, 3). Online courses are offered to earn a PT degree as well, but they may not be as beneficial because of the lack of hands-on experience. Still, online PT school costs less than attending a regular college. A usual cost for an online PT masters degree is between $5,000 or $10,000 and takes around two or three years (Williams, 2010, 3).

A new physical therapist, within their first year of the job, should expect to make between about $51,000 and $67,000 meaning about an average of $28 per hour. During the first five years of practicing PT, the approximate annual income rate is around $55,000 and $75,000. Once past five years, the salary is roughly $64,000 to $99,000 yearly. Clearly, the longer the profession is carried out, the greater the income will be (Anonymous, 2011b, 1). Still, physical therapists have to work long hours; usually close to forty-hour weeks. Some even work on weekends in order to accommodate to their patients' schedules (Anonymous, 2009a, 2).

The outlook for physical therapy is good. Because of the challenging physical demands of the job, since it is not a typical office sit-down occupation, PT is not a very common profession (Anonymous, 2009a, 5). Still, the amount of people in need of physical therapists every day is high. Every patient that sees a physical therapist has their own individual problem and has to be treated separately. Therefore, a physical therapist has to be able to adjust to each patient's specific needs, making the job even more difficult. Also, the demand for PT is high because people are always looking for ways to improve their strength and lessen their pain (Anonymous, 2011b, 5). Based on previous years, the amount of physical therapists is subject to increase. It is predicted that from 2008 to 2018, the employment of physical therapists will increase by 30%. This will most likely be due to an increase in elderly people in need of physical strengthening (Anonymous, 2009a, 5). "There will always be a need for such professionals since people will aways be in need of those that can help them improve the quality of their life" (Anonymous, 2011b, 8).

Physical therapy has many new techniques and innovations being used everyday. The McKenzie Exercise is a newly formulated exercise that extends the spine and stabilizes the lower body by using arm movement and core muscle contraction. This stretch is known to help reduce leg pain and can be beneficial for people with degenerative disk disease. Another exercise trending in PT is the Dynamic Lumbar Exercise. It helps position the spine and relive pain by teaching the spine to stay in a comfortable position. These exercises are being more commonly used now throughout PT (Ullrich, 2009, 3). Electrical simulation is a newer technique in PT that reduces pain and causes muscle contractions by using an electrical current. Plus, it is being studied as a way to heal broken bones. Ultrasound is another recent method being manipulated in PT. By using high pitch sound waves, it relaxes muscles to relieve pain and inflammation. However, ultrasound is not 100% effective, and it is still being studied and improved on to find ways to make it work better (Anonymous, 2009b, 4).

Physical therapists work to heal patients' physical disabilities. They treat people of all ages with all types of problems, diseases, or illnesses. Different techniques are used in PT to prevent further injury, reduce pain, and restore movement in the body (Anonymous, 2009a, 1). A physical therapist has to attend school for many years and earn a college degree in order to practice legally (Inverarity, 2008b, 2). Because the job is so hands-on, it is recommended to go to an actual college, though online schooling is available. Physical therapists make a good amount of money, and the more years a physical therapist works, the more money he or she will make (Anonymous, 2011b, 1). The outlook for physical therapy is good since people are always in search of ways to improve their bodies and eliminate pain (Anonymous, 2009a, 5). Multiple new innovations are being used in PT and many are being studied for full effectiveness (Anonymous, 2009b, 4).

For myself, I see physical therapy as a very profitable job in many ways. I love to help people and talk to people, as the job requires. Training, stretching, and exercising have always been important to me as well because they are an important part of sports I love, like cheer and gymnastics. When I was younger, my dad was hit by a car. He broke multiple bones, and he still, eight years after the accident, attends physical therapy. Because of this, I have observed the job up close. I even was able to help some of the therapists treat their patients, which I liked. Still, PT is a very time consuming profession, and it involves a lot of expensive schooling. However, on the bright side, it offers a good pay, and job opportunities for it in the future are predicted to be high. Later in my future, I will surely consider physical therapy as a job option for myself.
Bibliography:
Anonymous A 2009. "Physical Therapists." Web. 17 December. 2009.
http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos080.htm

Anonymous B 2009. "Physical Therapy-Topic Overview." Web. 6 March. 2009.
http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/tc/physical-therapy-topic-overview

Anonymous A 2011. "Physical Therapy Doctoral Program-Rochester, Minn." Web. 2011.
http://www.mayo.edu/mshs/pt-ptmp-rch.html

Anonymous B 2011. "Median Physical Therapy Salary Rates." Web. 2011. 
http://www.insertt.com/physical-therapy/median-physical-therapist-salary-rates.html

Inverarity A 2008. "Common Sports Injuries." Web. 17 November. 2008.
http://physicaltherapy.about.com/od/sportsinjuries/a/Sporthub.htm

Inverarity B 2008. "Applying to Physical Therapy School." Web. 30 November. 2008.
http://physicaltherapy.about.com/od/careersinphysicaltherapy/a/applying.htm

Sears A 2011. "Top Five Running Injuries." Web. 27 October. 2011.
http://physicaltherapy.about.com/od/sportsinjuries/a/The-Top-Five-Running-Injuries.htm

Sears B 2011. "What is Physical Therapy?" Web. 13 July. 2011.
http://physicaltherapy.about.com/od/typesofphysicaltherapy/a/What-is-Physical-Therapy.htm

Ullrich 2009. "Stretching for Back Pain Relief." Web. 15 June. 2009. 
http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/exercise/stretching-back-pain-relief

Williams 2010. "Physical Therapist Schools." Web. 12 February. 2010.
http://www.alliedhealthworld.com/physical-therapy-schools.html