Physical therapists (PTs) work with patients who have impairments, limitations, disabilities or changes in physical function and health status resulting from injury, disease or other causes. Their role includes examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis and interventions toward achieving the highest functional outcomes for each patient/client. MAYO clinic
Employment of physical therapists is expected to grow much faster than the average for all other occupations through 2014, and was identified as an "Excellent Career" in 2006 by U.S. News & World Report. The demand for physical therapists should continue to rise as a result of growth in the number of individuals with disabilities or limited function. The rapidly growing elderly population is particularly vulnerable to chronic and debilitating conditions that require therapeutic services. Also, the baby boom generation is entering the prime age for heart attacks and strokes, increasing the need for cardiac and physical rehabilitation.
Advances in medical technology that increase survival of newborns with birth defects, save more trauma victims, and permit treatment of additional disabling conditions will create greater demand for rehabilitative care. Widespread interest in health promotion also should increase demand for physical therapy services. A growing number of employers are using physical therapists to evaluate work sites, develop exercise programs, and teach safe work habits to employees in the hope of reducing injuries.
Physical therapists held about 155,000 jobs in 2005. About 60 percent of physical therapists were employed in hospitals or private practice. Other jobs were in home health agencies, outpatient rehabilitation centers, offices and clinics of physicians and nursing homes. Self-employed physical therapists may provide services to individual patients or contract with hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home health agencies, adult day care programs and schools. They may establish a solo practice or join a consulting group. Physical therapists also teach in academic institutions and conduct research.