Studies & Degrees in Physiotherapy
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Physiotherapy Study Programs
Physical Therapy or otherwise known as Physiotherapy is a health care profession which aims to promote, preserve and return mobility and body function by means of exercise techniques, modalities and proper assessment techniques to aid the main impairments of the patients. Physical therapy is propagated by means of a treatment plan that is usually derived from special testing and diagnosis of an individual. Therapy involves all aspects of rehabilitation including psychological, social and emotional well- being therefore all necessary measures are included in one treatment plan to obtain optimum gains for the patient.
Physical therapy had its beginnings from as early as 460 B.C. when Hector and Hippocrates used hydrotherapy (water therapy) and massage to aid their patients. During World War I the first physical therapists were referred to as reconstruction aides, whose primary duty is to aid in the rehabilitation of the wounded and immobilized in the army rehabilitation camps and hospitals. Most of them were women, who were involved in physical education and underwent lessons in practical nursing, massage and muscle rehabilitation under physicians. In 1921, the American Women’s Therapeutic Association was founded by Mary McMillan, who is one of the pioneers in physical therapy and the founding president of the American physical Therapy Association. Through the years many councils of Physical therapist’s aimed to develop a program that would rear and educate rehabilitation aides into professional therapists and at present Physical therapists are known to provide excellent health care even without the referral of physicians, due to the fact that they have a deep understanding with regards to patient evaluation and physical treatment.
Special areas of practice in physical therapy include cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, which deals with the treatment of patients who have or are recovering from cardiovascular conditions or pulmonary conditions. Treatment in this field aims to increase the body’s performance and endurance to raise the patient’s health status. Orthopedic physical therapy is an area of practice that deals with the assessment, treatment and progress of patients who are suffering from musculoskeletal conditions. These include proper knowledge on special rehabilitation techniques to hasten recovery and restore function. Neurological therapy aims to improve, if not fully restore body functions of patient’s who have suffered from mild to severe stages of neurological conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries ,etc. Extensive knowledge on brain and nerve functions is needed to be able to locate areas of disability and paralysis and address them. Pediatric and Geriatric physical rehabilitation is an area of great importance since it is accompanied by all kinds of disorders and conditions accompanying a person’s age. In pediatrics, the special conditions (e.g. Cerebral Palsy) of children are addressed and focus is also placed on their level of cognition and adaptation to treatment and goal settings. For geriatric patients, conditions brought about by age and others not involving their primary disease are addressed in treatment. These may include psychological levels, emotional state and social behaviour. An understanding in the differences brought about by age is needed to properly determine what plan of approach will best suit each individual patient.
Physiotherapy is a branch of medicine that specializes with the rehabilitation of patient to reach their near-normal or normal functional capacity. It is an old branch of medicine which existed even at the time of the Ancient Greek. Before, it only involves simple massages and hydrotherapy, which is the use of water for treatment.
In the 1920s, the evolution of the profession began. The physiotherapist was then referred to as a trained assistant and was allowed to work in agencies that catered to muscle training, electrotherapy, therapeutic massages, hydrotherapy and they could only practice under the prescription of a licensed physician.
The profession has evolved since then. Physiotherapy is now part of the rehabilitation team which uses holistic approach to aid the patient in full recovery. The role of the physiotherapist changed dramatically through the years. They are allowed by law to evaluate, perform treatment, and do preventive care requiring the expertise in the field of physiotherapy. Technology has also made a tremendous contribution in the evolution of this profession. Nowadays, aside from the manual skills and techniques, physiotherapist also utilizes machines like ultrasound machine, traction machines, transcutaneous electrical stimulators and the like. Hydrotherapy also improved a lot. It now employs the use of whirpool baths for burn patients and swimming for exercises especially for patients with paralysis.
Physiotherapy as we know it today uses combination of many techniques. It usually depends on the case that the patient has. Physiotherapist uses manual manipulation techniques, superficial and deep massages, cold therapy, heat therapy, electrotherapy, different type of exercises. They also teach patients how to use assistive devices like cane, walker, and wheelchair if necessary. Use of prosthesis and orthosis are also in their line of work.
A physiotherapist can now work in a hospital setting, specifically in the Rehabilitation Department. Others chose to specialize in one area like Sports Rehabilitation and Medicine. There are careers also in caring for the elderly and children with special needs like the ones afflicted with cerebral palsy.
Usual cases that a physiotherapist handle can differ from time to time. Stroke, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injury are common ones. Sports injury like strain, sprain and fracture are also present. In the pediatric area, cerebral palsy would top the list.
Now, what does it take to be a physiotherapist? To evaluate a patient properly, you need to have a very good background on anatomy and physiology. An understanding of the disease process will also help a lot in determining the proper treatment approach that will help in the recovery of the patient. The physiotherapist would normally make a thorough evaluation and will identify the problems that the patient are encountering, usually limiting activities of daily living. After that, the physiotherapist would then design an appropriate treatment plan. They will also formulate short term goal and long term goal in terms of achieving base on the patient's problem list.
Knowing these basic facts, a career in physiotherapy is a rather challenging option. It is a fulfilling job guiding people towards recovery to their normal functional capacity to do the activities of daily living. Seeing a child walk for the first time or a man walk again is a great reward in itself.
Job positions for Physiotherapy:
Physiotherapy Clinical Practitioner
The most popular job to land as a physical therapist would be in a hospital, outpatient clinic or in homecare, most commonly known as clinical practice. To be able to qualify for clinical practice a therapist must have earned a diploma in physical therapy from an accredited college or university and must have passed the designated board exams. Certified physical therapy programs offer both master’s degrees and doctorates in physical therapy. Applicants need bachelor's degrees that include prerequisite courses, which are set by each graduate program and vary from one educational institution to another. Some states or regions require certifications or degrees in continuing education to be able to maintain a physical therapy license.
Physical therapists usually work in sanitary and comfortable environments because most patients are in hospitals although some therapists do have to make home visits to their patients. Physical therapists should be encouraging and supportive since some patients are permanently disabled. It is the job of the physical therapist to make sure that the patient’s functional capacities are maximized. Physical therapists also make sure that treatment plans are carried out properly by assistants or aides or make the necessary revisions in the treatment plan and goal- setting of a patient. Therapists also keep records and write reports on the progress of each patient. A day in the clinic practice for a physical therapist is actually like a routine. Patients come in and primary and follow- up assessments are done, documented and treatment plans are revised or started. The clinic has everything the therapist needs from modalities to ambulation devices and so every therapist must be well-oriented with the new technology in health care. Operation of these new machines has different parameters so therapists must also be able to memorize the materials they are working with. When it comes to patient interaction, therapists must be patient as most of the people they treat belong to the senior-aged bracket and those who need long term care. Most patients with debilitating conditions are also hard to encourage and please so the psycho-social adaptations of a therapist must be fast. For therapists with administrative work in the clinics and hospitals, it is expected that they have great ability to manage and organize the whole working team. They monitor all patients, documentations, the people who work under them, complaints and more. Most physical therapists work forty hours per week. Those who prefer flexible hours can usually find private, part-time or consulting work. For these reasons, all physical therapists are expected to be in good health and shape.
Physical therapists are well-compensated. This profession has a very good employment outlook with a salary averaging $60,180 per year (in the US). Plus, therapists can choose to accommodate patients requiring private home care which adds even greater to the salary they receive. The demand is also expected to increase since the increasing senior population requires rehabilitative care. Also, increasing number of congenital defects and conditions, motor-vehicle accidents, disabling diseases and degenerative conditions all require some form of therapy to maximize their functions, and this would add more to the need for professional physical therapists.
Physiotherapy University Professor
Several careers are available in physical therapy and one of these would be a teacher or educator in the Academe. By obtaining a Masteral degree (MSPT/MPT) or Doctor of Physical therapy (DPT), physical therapists are accredited to instruct students as professors and educators. For some countries, a license to teach is needed and also the proper license for the specific area or region as instructed. The curriculum in physical therapy is very extensive and a profoundly educated teacher is required to elaborate in detail the required subjects such as anatomy, neuroanatomy, therapeutic exercises and skills training to be able to produce highly qualified and competent future therapists. As an educator, one must be persevering in giving instructions and training the novice students. It is imperative that the educator can communicate well and be able to clearly relate all knowledge necessary for the student. In this career, knowledge base is far more considered than the practical skills of a physical therapist. It is suggested for those who would want a career involvement in curricular activities rather than being in the hospital settings.
An advantage of this career path is the time for part- time actual patient handling in private homecare or out- patient clinics, since during long breaks, educators are also enjoying some time off the classroom setting and may be able to expose themselves in actual treatments and to further hone their skills in theory or in practice. Another advantage is the average salary an educator receives apart from the actual practice in clinics. It is an advantage since almost every year, tuition fees increase and the advancement in the curriculum itself will give the educator an edge in the mean increase of annual income.
Becoming an instructor would also give the therapist an opportunity to research on the topics and new areas of study that must be introduced to the students. Part of the job would be to completely be in detail with new breakthroughs in the profession and to be able to convince students through lectures that indeed such breakthroughs are effective. Clinical evidence and sharing of personal clinical experiences are also a plus since the students would be more interested in attaining the degree when they get to hear the best stories from their superiors. It also backs up the theories and claims of most treatment and assessment procedures since patient handling experience is documented as clinical evidence and pupils would be more enthusiastic if the most basic principles taught to them are tried and tested by their own teachers.
Being a physical therapist in the academe is indeed a collaboration of hard work, experience, patience and knowledge to be able to successfully hone great future therapists for the increasing demands in allied health care.