School of Health Professions banner

The Physical Therapy Profession

Physical Therapy is a profession that seeks to return patients to the highest possible degree of personal independence. The physical therapist (PT) works with patients with disabilities of the muscular, skeletal, neurological, circulatory, and respiratory systems. Physical therapists are also involved in prevention programs to assist people of all ages in maintaining health and physical fitness.

The physical therapist plans and administers individualized treatment programs that are designed to restore functional movement, relieve pain, promote healing and recovery and, when necessary, help patients adapt to permanent disability. The PT plans the treatment program and evaluating the patient and his or her medical record and consulting with other members of the patient's health care team.

Tests, observation and interviews provide vital information about a patient's strength, reflexes, sensory perception, posture, gait, cardiopulmonary endurance, and daily living activities. After evaluation, the PT treats the patient through various forms of exercise, physical modalities (including heat, cold, ultrasound, electricity, and massage), functional activities, and assistive/adaptive devices.

The physical therapist exercises judgment in interpreting test results to plan and adjust treatment. Successful physical therapy may take weeks, months or years, depending on the extent of the injury or disability and the patient's motivation.

Qualities Needed to be a Physical Therapist:

Physical therapy requires excellent judgment and problem-solving abilities, compassion, tact, flexibility and patience. Because of the direct patient contact involved, the physical therapist must enjoy working with people and be able to make each patient's rehabilitation goals a priority. The physical therapist must also win the confidence, trust and commitment of the patient. Good verbal and written communication skills are extremely important. Conversational Spanish is an asset for physical therapists practicing in Texas. According to U.S. News & World Report, physical therapy is one of the 50 best careers for 2011.

For More Information On Physical Therapy, Contact the Organizations Below:
The American Physical Therapy Association
The Texas Physical Therapy Association