Physical Therapists Needed
Yackley, Rachel Baruch, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Rachel Baruch Yackley Daily Herald Correspondent
"It's a hands-on kind of job"
Physical therapists, referred to as "PTs," work with clients to help restore, maintain, and promote the overall fitness and health of patients with physical disabilities, or who are recovering from injury or illness.
PTs provide services to accident victims; people with disabling conditions such as low back pain, arthritis, heart disease, fractures, head injuries, and cerebral palsy; as well as a patients recovering from a wide range of ailments.
Some PTs specialize in areas such as pediatrics, geriatrics, orthopedics, sports medicine, neurology, and cardiopulmonary physical therapy.
Typical of most allied health care occupations, PTs familiarize themselves with the patients' medical history, then administer a series of tests which measure patients' strength, range of motion, balance and coordination, posture, muscle performance, respiration, and motor function.
Each patient's ability to be independent and reintegrated into his or her community and workplace, when applicable, is also explored.
After these basics are established, PTs develop treatment plans, which include treatment strategies, purpose, and anticipated outcomes.
Strategies often include exercises to build up and enhance flexibility, strength, or endurance.
PTs may utilize a variety of equipment aided techniques such as electrical stimulation, hot packs, cold compresses, ultrasound, traction, or deep-tissue massage.
Patients may also be instructed by PTs in how to use assistive and adaptive devices, such as crutches and wheelchairs.
Physical Therapist Assistants
Under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist, assistants can be involved in implementing patients' treatment plans.
PT assistants are licensed and degreed.
Physical Therapist Aides
PT aides support their team by taking care of routine tasks, as directed by the physical therapists, such as transporting patients and equipment.
Aides typically do not have to be licensed or certified.
Where the jobs are
The fields of rehabilitation and nursing home care are the most familiar employers of physical therapists.
PTs work in hospitals, clinics, private offices, adult day care centers, nursing care facilities, and outpatient centers. They may also treat patients in their homes through home healthcare services, or in schools.
PTs also teach in academic institutions, and conduct research, as well.
This is a growing field, and physical therapists are needed. With the growing geriatric population, and with improvements in skilled nursing facilities, this is a field which is expected to continue needing more PTs over the next several years.
Looking for jobs
Sue Gutstein, an occupational therapist who is the director of therapy services at Whitehall North in Deerfield, oversees therapists and interviews potential new employees.
As this is a skilled nursing facility which cares mostly for older short term and long term medicare and insurance patients, Gutstein said that when applying at Whitehall North, "A physical disability background is a must, and skilled nursing experience and/or rehab experience is a plus," especially with the geriatric population. …