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How is the proper therapy plan developed?

Based on the examination findings, the physical therapist completes an evaluation and determines a diagnosis and prognosis. The physical therapist then establishes a plan of care that includes specific interventions designed to produce changes in the patient's condition in order to achieve the desired outcomes.

What types of intervention are routinely used?

Physical therapists use the following interventions to achieve patient outcomes:

  • Coordination, communication, and documentation
  • Therapeutic exercise (including aerobic conditioning)
  • Functional training in self-care and home management (including activities of daily living and instructional activities of daily living)
  • Functional training in community and work (job/school/play) integration or reintegration (including instrumental activities of daily living, work hardening, and work conditioning)
  • Manual therapy techniques (including mobilization and manipulation)
  • Prescription, application, and, as appropriate, fabrication of devices and equipment (assistive, adaptive, orthotic, protective, supportive, and prosthetic)

What type of training / education is required to be a physical therapist?

Physical therapists attain their knowledge and skills through extensive academic and clinical education. To enter the profession, physical therapists must have completed at least four years of college, graduated from an accredited professional education program, and secured a license by successfully completing a state licensure examination.

All professional education programs include foundational science and clinical science courses and emphasize the science, theory, and practice of physical therapy, and patient and client management. The curriculum includes opportunities to apply and integrate theory through extensive clinical education in a variety of practice settings. Most physical therapists enter the profession with a post-baccalaureate degree (MSPT, MPT, DPT). In addition, some pursue advanced academic education by earning post-professional master's and/or doctoral degrees.

What type of licensure is required for a physical therapist?

After graduating from an accredited professional education program, physical therapists must pass a state-administered national licensure examination in order to legally practice physical therapy. Additional licensure requisites for physical therapists vary from state to state according to physical therapy practice acts and state regulations that govern physical therapy.

  • American Physical Therapy Association