Despite an admittedly unsteady economic climate in the United States, professionals in the field of physical therapy are finding that their jobs are more secure than ever before. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, as of 2012, the growth rate for physical therapy jobs measures at approximately 39 percent each year. This rate of increase is regarded as much faster than average with a median pay expectation of approximately $76,000 annually.
Physical Therapy Jobs Available to Recent Graduates
After an individual has received his or her doctoral degree, the path to career success in this field is wide open. Physical therapists work in a variety of atmospheres and specialize in a broad range of concentrations. Some of the most common occupations for physical therapists in today’s job market are described in detail below.
Geriatric Physical Therapist
As our bodies age, our bones and muscles begin to naturally deteriorate, leaving our bodies in need of special care in order to function normally and comfortably. Arthritis, problems with balance, Alzheimer’s disease and loss of bone density can all make it extremely difficult for older individuals to enjoy their later years.
Physical therapists who work with the elderly are patient, compassionate and knowledgeable professionals who dedicate their time and efforts to the goal of making life more manageable and enjoyable for their clients. Various water exercises, low impact cardiovascular work workouts and stretching can help elderly people reduce pain, increase stamina and improve flexibility over time.
Pediatric Physical Therapist
On the opposite side of the spectrum are physical therapists who work exclusively with children and adolescents. Babies and young children who have been diagnosed with disorders that affect their bones, muscles and joints need physical therapy in order to ensure proper development of basic motor skills. Daily sessions may be needed in severe cases, particularly if the cause of the physical problem is a debilitating injury, surgery or a birth defect.
Pediatric physical therapists work closely with both the child’s family and his or her pediatrician in order to formulate a comprehensive treatment plan that fulfills very specific needs. Over time, the child’s sense of balance, strength, agility and stamina are dramatically improved.
Neurological Physical Therapist
Patients who have suffered an injury to the brain or spinal cord frequently require some form of physical therapy in order to regain normal and efficient use of their bodies. Whether sessions revolve around simple, gross motor skills or more complex feats such as learning to walk again, physical therapists play a key role in their rehabilitation. Other circumstances that may call for a neurological physical therapist include Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.