Mueller College of Holistic Studies

Mueller College offers a wide range of holistic health subjects such as massage therapy, hypnotherapy, herbology, reflexology, Reiki, nutrition, and Eastern and Asian modalities.

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Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy Overview

Physical therapists provide treatment and rehabilitation of patients with injuries or disabilities that limit mobility and function. They help people recover from accidents and surgery, as well as improve the health of those afflicted with chronic conditions such as arthritis, back pain, and heart disease. Physical therapists assess the patient's condition and then design a plan to improve the patient's overall functioning and health. The treatment may include ultrasound, hot packs or cold compresses, massage, and physical exercises. Most physical therapists work in hospitals or in physical therapy offices.

History of Physical Therapy

The need for physical therapy was recognized primarily as a result of injuries incurred by soldiers during the First World War. The British method of treating the disabled using reconstruction aides/physical therapists to provide exercise programs, hydrotherapy and massage was the beginning of the practice of physical therapy. The United States adopted the British system in order to treat the many thousands of wounded soldiers returning home during and after the war. Physical therapy practices have evolved to meet the needs of advancing scientific breakthroughs primarily in orthopedics and cardiac surgery.

Current/Future Situation as a Physical Therapists

The current demand for physical therapy exceeds the number of practicing physical therapists. There are approximately 176,000 physical therapists in the United States and job growth is expected to be 27% through 2016 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The need for services is expected to continue to grow as the population ages. As has happened in the past, new advances in medicine will require additional physical therapy services. The growing interest in holistic practices and health and wellness promotion should also increase the demand for physical therapists.

Career Description as a Physical Therapists

In addition to hospitals and physical therapy offices, physical therapists can work in rehabilitation centers, nursing care facilities, outpatient care centers, and in home health care services. They often consult with physicians about the care of their patients. Some physical therapists are in general practice; others are specialized in such areas as pediatrics, geriatrics and sports medicine.

Most physical therapists work a full time 40 hour work week. Their hours may vary to accommodate patients in the evening or on weekends. The job is physically demanding and requires hours of standing, bending, and lifting.

The median salary for physical therapists is approximately $66,000 annually. The highest 10% earn more than $94,000 annually. Those working in home health care typically earn the highest salaries.

Day in the Life of a Physical Therapists

A typical day in the life of a physical therapist begins with a review of the patient's medical record. Then the therapist evaluates the patient's current condition with respect to range of motion, strength and mobility. The next step is to develop a plan of specific exercises and treatments designed to improve the patient's functions. The therapist may teach the patient how to correctly perform the exercises, use heat or cold therapy, massage, or ultrasound as part of the treatment. An important part of the process is documentation of the patient's progress. One hour is the average time spent on each physical therapy session. A therapist will care for several patients each day. Patients are usually scheduled for three or more sessions per week for a period of weeks until the desired improvement is effected.

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Stat/Fact/Tip of the Day

In order to practice as a physical therapist, all states require graduation from an accredited physical therapist program and passing a licensure examination.

Education includes courses in biology, chemistry, biomechanics, therapeutic procedures, and clinical experience.

Physical therapists need good communication skills and a desire to help others.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-2009 Edition