What is Physical Therapy?

What is Physical Therapy?

According to The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), “Physical Therapists (PT) examine each individual and develop a plan using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability.” When working with an PT, clients receive an individualized evaluation and treatment plan focused on the restoration, maintenance and/or promotion of optimal physical function across the lifespan.

Where do they practice?

  • Schools
  • Private clinics / outpatient clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Inpatient rehabilitation programs (also known as ARU or IPR)
  • Home Health
  • Skilled nursing facilities

What is the difference between a physical therapist (PT) and physical therapy assistant (PTA)?

The three largest areas of differences include level of education, responsibility and annual salary. Physical therapists are required to have a doctoral degree in physical therapy and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) which is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). In short, they are responsible for evaluating clients, creating treatment plans and supervising PTAs.

Physical therapy assistants are required to have an associates degree and pass the PTA exam provided by the FSBPT.  PTAs are responsible for carrying through with the established plan of care set by the evaluating physical therapist and is an integral part of the healthcare team.  

Both careers require coursework in physics, biology, anatomy and physiology, general chemistry and kinesiology. In 2019, the U.S. News and World Report listed physical therapy jobs as #16 in Best Health Care Jobs and #20 in 100 Best Jobs overall. Physical therapy assistants came in at #3 for Best Health Care Support Jobs.

PTs have an incredible amount of career flexibility given the different populations of people they serve.  Therapists have the opportunity to continue their learning and earn any of the following advanced certifications:

  • Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Certified Specialist (CCS)
  • Clinical Electrophysiologic Certified Specialist (ECS)
  • Geriatric Certified Specialist (GCS)
  • Neurologic Certified Specialist (NCS)
  • Orthopedic Certified Specialist (OCS)
  • Pediatric Certified Specialist (PCS)
  • Sports Certified Specialist (SCS)
  • Women’s Health Certified Specialist (WCS)

Take home points:

  • Got physical goals? Physical therapists work to keep you healthy and moving- regardless of your physical abilities and challenges.
  • Given the diverse populations and conditions therapists treat, the job outlook for both physical therapists and physical therapists are on the rise. In 2019, the United States Department of Labor projected a 18-22% increase in job growth through 2028.  
  • How do you find a physical therapist in California?  Search RehabGAB.com! Can’t find what you’re looking for? Send us an e-mail @ info@RehabGAB.com


November 5, 2019 / 2 Comments / by / in