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Physical Therapy

Physical therapy, also known as physiotherapy in countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia, is the clinical practice of therapeutic medicine with the intention to assist patients in rehabilitating, recovering, or improving their functional abilities.  Aimed at promoting healthy living, physical therapy can be utilized to treat a variety of disabilities, diseases, or injuries.  A typical physical therapy experience includes both initial and follow-up evaluations coupled with the strategic use of exercise, manual therapy, and modalities.  The ultimate goal of these efforts is to empower patients to reach their individual maximum levels of quality of life.

In order to become a physical therapist one must first graduate from an accredited Masters (M) or Doctorate (D) of Physical Therapy (PT) program.  Students applying for admission to PT school will generally use the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS), unless applying to a non-PTCAS school.  Non-PTCAS schools have their own admission procedures.  Furthermore, PTs must pass the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as meet state licensure requirements to practice as a PT.   In addition, physical therapists have the opportunity to pursue certifications as a clinical specialist through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS).  Specialty areas include cardiovascular & pulmonary, clinical electrophysiology, geriatric, neurologic, orthopedic, pediatrics, sports, and women’s health.  State laws/statutes, overseen by state licensing boards, define the scope of practice of physical therapists which varies by state.

The need for physical therapy services is anticipated to increase over the next 8 years primarily due to the aging of the baby boomer generation and the increased activity levels of individuals later in life.  In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies the job outlook for physical therapists as growing, “much faster than normal,” with an anticipated growth rate of 39% from 2010-2020. Patients can receive physical therapy on an in-patient or out-patient basis.  In-patient physical therapy is generally conducted while a patient is admitted to a facility such as a hospital or nursing/residential environment.  However, out-patient physical therapy occurs when a patient is not residing in the healthcare facility and care is provided in a clinic, office, or home setting from a private provider or affiliate of larger healthcare system.  In 2010, physical therapists held approximately 198,600 jobs in an office/clinic (37%), hospital (28%), home health (10%), nursing/residential care (7%), or self-employed (7%) setting with 11% not reporting. 

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2300 MacCorkle Avenue, SE
Charleston, WV 25304
1-800-995-4682 (GO UC) 

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