What does a Physical Therapist do?

Assess, plan, organize, and participate in rehabilitative programs that improve mobility, relieve pain, increase strength, and improve or correct disabling conditions resulting from disease or injury.

Jobs Roles

  • Plan, prepare, or carry out individually designed programs of physical treatment to maintain, improve, or restore physical functioning, alleviate pain, or prevent physical dysfunction in patients.
  • Perform and document an initial exam, evaluating data to identify problems and determine a diagnosis prior to intervention.
  • Evaluate effects of treatment at various stages and adjust treatments to achieve maximum benefit.
  • Administer manual exercises, massage, or traction to help relieve pain, increase patient strength, or decrease or prevent deformity or crippling.
  • Instruct patient and family in treatment procedures to be continued at home.
  • Confer with the patient, medical practitioners, or appropriate others to plan, implement, or assess the intervention program.
  • Review physician's referral and patient's medical records to help determine diagnosis and physical therapy treatment required.
  • Record prognosis, treatment, response, and progress in patient's chart or enter information into computer.
  • Obtain patients' informed consent to proposed interventions.
  • Discharge patient from physical therapy when goals or projected outcomes have been attained and provide for appropriate follow-up care or referrals.
  • Test and measure patient's strength, motor development and function, sensory perception, functional capacity, or respiratory or circulatory efficiency and record data.
  • Identify and document goals, anticipated progress, and plans for reevaluation.
  • Provide information to the patient about the proposed intervention, its material risks and expected benefits, and any reasonable alternatives.
  • Direct, supervise, assess, and communicate with supportive personnel.
  • Administer treatment involving application of physical agents, using equipment, moist packs, ultraviolet or infrared lamps, or ultrasound machines.
  • Teach physical therapy students or those in other health professions.
  • Evaluate, fit, or adjust prosthetic or orthotic devices or recommend modification to orthotist.
  • Provide educational information about physical therapy or physical therapists, injury prevention, ergonomics, or ways to promote health.
  • Refer clients to community resources or services.
  • Conduct or support research and apply research findings to practice.
  • Participate in community or community agency activities or help to formulate public policy.
  • Construct, maintain, or repair medical supportive devices.
  • Direct group rehabilitation activities.
  • Inform patients and refer to appropriate practitioners when diagnosis reveals findings outside physical therapy.
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