A physiotherapist is a health care expert who is primarily concerned with the remediation of impairments and disabilities through examination, evaluation, diagnosis and physical intervention.
The nature of this profession is mostly remedial and often goes hand in hand with rehabilitation. In addition, physiotherapists are usually involved in the promotion of mobility, functional ability, quality of life and movement potential. In addition to clinical practice, physiotherapists are also involved in clinical research, imparting of education, providing consultation services and administration.
Physiotherapists usually deal with patients recovering from corrective procedures to injuries, which vary from minor recovery procedures to acute surgeries.
Another important section to whom physiotherapists cater is sports professionals who require both remedial services as well as continuous conditioning to improve their mobility and athleticism. Also, there is a continuously progressing research in the field of physical therapy in which physiotherapists with an academic inclination can involve themselves.
The job of a physiotherapist involves screening patients to diagnose their problems, ranging from physical abnormalities to lack of attention. It also concerns general body ergonomics such as gait, posture, locomotion & balance.
Physiotherapists depend a lot on the history of the patient as well and accurate recording of the history, covering all assistive & adaptive devices, self-regulatory treatments, home management and community conditions, among others. Based on this assessment, physiotherapists come up with a plan of care, involving all therapeutic exercises, all recommended assistive devices, plans of community intervention and manual therapy techniques.
The demand for physiotherapists is on the rise, with increased awareness among the people regarding the benefits of good maintenance of their body. The monetary remuneration is also on impressive scales, with specialized therapists involved in several fields.
Physiotherapists who make it to well off sports team or assist an international athlete/Olympian can expect even higher returns, not only in terms of money but also in fame!
In order to get there, however, aspiring physiotherapists need to first have an undergraduate degree, not necessarily in a field related to physical therapy. There are no special requirements for this undergraduate degree except the standard minimum credits as required by the course undertaken.
This opens up avenues in the field of physical therapy as few people are sufficiently dedicated towards pursuing a Bachelor’s degree and then a Master’s degree in physical therapy.
However, with increased opportunities and lucrative dividends, there has been a definite upward growth in the number of such people in recent years.
Most Physical Therapist education curricula in the United States culminate into a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. Physiotherapists can also hold a Master of Physical Therapy degree.
The World Confederation of Physical Therapy (WCPT) recommends that physical therapist entry-level educational programs be based on university-level studies, of a minimum of four years, independently validated and accredited as being at a standard that accords graduates full statutory and professional recognition.
Professional education curricula in the United States are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and aim to prepare physical therapists to be autonomous practitioners who may work in collaboration with other members of a health care team.
The four years of undergraduate training are well distributed, with all aspects of physical therapy being adequately covered. There is content covering the cardiovascular, pulmonary, endocrine, metabolic, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, integumentary, musculoskeletal, and neuromuscular systems and the medical and surgical conditions frequently seen by physical therapists.
In addition, there are clinical hours included to ensure that the future physiotherapists are used to the rigors of the on ground work and are acclimatized to the equipment and general procedures followed.
The road to a functional practice of a qualified physiotherapist goes along the course of obtaining a license to be able to operate as a physiotherapist. This requires qualifying a state controlled testing procedure, which varies from state to state, though the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) has drafted a model definition in order to limit this variation.
Strict regulations govern the practice of a physiotherapist. A person licensed to practice in a state can’t operate in any other state, unless there is a specific regulation allowing inter-state operation of the practice subject to the satisfaction of certain guidelines. Physiotherapists wanting to practice in multiple states should take up additional examinations to be eligible for doing so.
Higher and on-going education is an important aspect of the career of a physiotherapist, similar to most related fields, with physiotherapists required to keep abreast of the latest advancements in technology and the ever changing procedures of treatment. Post-doctoral education in this field is available at some reputed institutes, with a Master’s degree available in a number of specialized areas including geriatric, orthopedic, women’s health, sports, and pediatrics and it is overseen by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists (ABPTS).
This is a career suited for those who are willing to continuously adapt and build solid foundations on which they can build a good rapport with their clientele and provide invaluable reconstructive and remedial services.
With the ever increasing numbers of fitness conscious people and people with an inclination towards sport, unfortunate accidents are on the rise as well and physiotherapists play a vital role in helping the victims restore normalcy to their lives.
Major sports franchises absolutely require the services of qualified physiotherapists both on and off the field as sportsmen require constant conditioning to ensure that they are at the top of their game. In addition, physiotherapists are in demand with today’s office goers who require services such as posture correction due to hunching over their computers for too long.
Physiotherapy is a profession which is strongly based on science and requires good interaction with the clientele. There are clearly established test results which show that physiotherapy is extremely effective and very conducive to the rehabilitation measures employed in most cases.
There are also famous physiotherapists whose conditioning services have helped their clientele clinch world famous achievements in the world of sport and they act as inspiration for tomorrow’s aspiring physiotherapists!