The physical therapist is a health care professional who examines, designs and implements physical therapy interventions for persons of all age groups. The goals of physical therapy are to enhance or maintain endurance, muscle strength and mobility, and to treat pain, movement dysfunction or disability due to disease, injury, loss of a body part or birth defects. The therapist helps individuals prevent injury and overcome movement dysfunction through exercise, education, assistive devices and physical procedures.
For the community and individuals, the therapist provides health promotion and prevention consultation, assesses the living environment and recommends adaptations to eliminate architectural barriers. Psychological, sociological and economic factors must be considered when interacting with clients/patients and community groups.
Employment opportunities include hospitals, private practices, rehabilitation centers, home health agencies, industry, research centers, health maintenance organizations, sports medicine centers, nursing homes, community centers, wellness centers, outpatient clinics and school settings. The physical therapy profession offers opportunities for advancement in areas such as education, clinical specialization, management, performing arts, professional sports consultation and research.