Physical therapists or physiotherapists are professionals who render services which assist people who are suffering from injuries or disorders, to preclude permanent physical impairments. They are responsible for reestablishing physical functions, meliorating mobility, and providing relief from pain. They carry out the important functions of restituting, maintaining, and promoting overall fitness and health of those individuals who require medical care. They care for and treat people who have accident injuries, or are suffering from different disorders and diseases such as back pain, arthritis, heart diseases, fractures, serious head trauma, and cerebral palsy.
The primary duties of a physical therapist include:
- Diagnosing the patients' problems by observing their dysfunctional movements and by evaluating the test results.
- Studying the medical history of patients, and examining and measuring their strength, balance, and physical coordination, posture, functioning of the muscles, respiration, and motor functions.
- Formulating strategies which help treatment procedures and their expected results. Such interventions mostly include physical exercises for individuals who are immobilized or deficient in flexibility, strength, or endurance.
- Introducing therapies which better the flexibility of motion of a patient's muscles. The main aim of these therapies is to improve the basic physical functioning of the individual, so that he is able to carry out his daily activities with optimum balance and coordination.
- Making a detailed record of the patient's progress, carrying out periodical checkups and examinations, and altering the therapies or treatments, if and when required.
- If needed, they frequently consult and work with other professionals from the medical field, like doctors, dental practitioners, nurses, pedagogues, welfare workers, occupational therapists, speech-language diagnosticians, and audiologists. This includes participating in multidisciplinary teams to plan and work out treatment modalities, according to the needs and suitability of their patients.
- Guiding, training, and supervising therapy assistants regarding the care and treatment of patients, and successful completion of standardized processes.
Scope of Work
- Some physical therapists handle, treat, and cure a variety of illnesses, whereas others specialize in fields like pediatric medicine, gerontology, orthopedics, sports medicine, clinical neurology, and cardiopulmonary physical therapy.
- Physical therapists carry out their tasks in hospitals, clinics, and private facilities, which are equipped with all the latest medical technologies.
- They can also work with sports teams, and treat sportsmen with injuries such as muscle sprains or cramps.
- They can be employed by schools, sports clubs, private or government hospitals, or may be self-employed.
- The treatment given by therapists may include the use of electrical stimulation, hot packs, cold compresses and ultrasonography for pain relief and reduction in swelling.
- They use traction procedures or deep-tissue massages to help patients get rid of pain and to restore circulation and flexibility.
- They recommend their patients to make use of helpful equipment like crutches, prosthetic aids, and wheelchairs, which certainly help patients get back to a normal life.
- They educate and train their patients regarding various physical exercises which can be done at home, for faster recovery.
The tasks which are carried out by them are physically challenging, as they may be required to stand for long periods of time or perform other strenuous tasks. They may have to help patients stand, walk or turn, and handle and move bulky instruments.
There are many more tasks which physical therapists may have to carry out, depending on the need of the situation. If one is in search of a career like this, which involves a lot of movement and helping individuals with mobility problems, a career in physical therapy would be ideal.