Physical therapy is health care for individuals who need help in maintaining or restoring movement, relieving pain and increasing functionality due to various factors. The physical therapy practice has many specialties that treat injuries or conditions that may be caused by age, disease, accidents or other circumstances. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the standard education for a practicing therapist is a master’s degree from an accredited physical therapy program and acquisition of a state license. Doctoral degrees are available and often pursued as well.
Women in PT
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has over 72,000 members in its organization and provides many statistics and information about the industry. According to APTA, nearly 70 percent of its members are women and about 74 percent of all licensed physical therapists are women. Based on enrollment numbers in the estimated 209 physical therapy programs throughout the United States, women outnumber men in educational programs to become licensed practitioners by the same amount--about 3-to-1. In the 2007-2008 academic year, total enrollment was 20,193, with 14,418 being women.
Specialties in the physical therapy industry may include cardiopulmonary (heart and lung focus), geriatrics (age-related), neurologic (nervous system), orthopedics or pediatrics.
The therapists, as do most health-care providers, may work in various environments. Some options include independent offices, rehabilitation facilities, senior-care facilities, in-home care, hospital facilities, sports facilities and many other environments. Although the majority of physical therapists are female, males open and operate more self-owned physical therapy practices.
The PT industry is growing, and the U.S. Department of Labor and APTA both anticipate job opportunities and employment to increase steadily. They estimate a 27 percent increase in jobs over 10 years due to increased demand in physical disabilities treatment, orthopedics, new technologies and an aging population.
Physical therapy is a necessary health-care field, and many benefit from the services practitioners provide. Due to emerging technology and continuing research on physical conditions, the industry has increased in size and use as therapies have developed and the benefits are perceived. Therapists often work in conjunction with other specialists to provide complete care for patients, and many people can benefit from this specialized care.