Physical therapists provide therapy treatment to patients with physical disabilities. They teach patients proper exercises and use a variety of equipment and activities to help patients strengthen muscles and improve mobility, restore function and to relieve pain.
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Physical therapists often work in hospitals, clinics, physician offices, nursing homes, home health agencies, rehabilitation centers, adult daycare programs, schools or private companies. Some work in private practice and contract with these agencies. Their work includes lifting, bending, standing, and other mobile activities while working with patients. Physical therapists are trained to test and measure a patientís motor abilities, strength, coordination, and respiratory and circulatory efficiency. They instruct, encourage and help patients to complete a variety of activities. Physical therapists are trained to provide treatment with equipment, exercises, massage, whirlpool baths, and other mediums while evaluating the success of each treatment and modifying therapy as needed. Physical therapists review a physicianís recommendations and the patientís medical record to determine most appropriate physical therapy treatment. Physical therapists typically work 40 hours a week and may include evenings and weekends. This work can be both rewarding and frustrating for a physical therapist depending upon how their patientís condition progresses during therapy.
High school students should study biology, chemistry, physics, health, and social sciences. Students must complete a masterís degree in physical therapy. Because entry into physical therapy programs is competitive, it is recommended that students focus on obtaining exceptional grades in high school and college as well as performing some volunteer work in the field. Supervised clinical experience is provided in physical therapy educational programs, as well as course work on the basic sciences, biomechanics, neuroanatomy, studies in disease, and research and rehabilitative procedures.
Upon completion of their undergraduate degree from an accredited program, students must pass an examination to become a licensed physical therapist.
University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
University of Wisconsin - Madison
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
St. Norbert College
University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire
University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
University of Wisconsin - Oskhosh
University of Wisconsin - Parkside
University of Wisconsin - Platteville
University of Wisconsin - River Falls
University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
Gunderson Medical Foundation
American Physical Therapy Association
1111 N. Fairfax St.
Alexandria, VA, 22314-1488
703/684-2782 or 800/999-2782
Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association
3510 E. Washington Ave.
Madison, WI, 53704
608/221-9191 or 866/367-6978
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