Whether working with professional athletes, dance troupes, or the general public, physical therapists use their unique skills to assess and treat movement dysfunction. They also play an essential role in patient education and care.
Specializations within the field of physical therapy can further narrow the focus of practice. Here are a few of the more common clinical specialty certifications for PTs.
The Rochester Regional Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program helps patients with lung disorders — like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, asthma, congenital heart defects and more. These people often experience difficulty breathing, limiting their daily activities and quality of life. The specialized therapy focuses on improving exercise capacity and breathing ability. It’s a medically-supervised environment with a team of experts, including cardiologist and/or pulmonologist, nurse educators, exercise specialists, dietitians, physiotherapists and counselors.
These hands-on healthcare professionals evaluate movement dysfunction, develop care plans, use therapeutic exercises and facilitate neuromuscular control of movements for patients with a variety of injuries and diseases. They work in hospitals, clinics and outpatient facilities. They typically work standard business hours and can meet with their patients during the evening or on weekends as needed.
Physical Therapists in Orlando FL work with patients of all ages and are trained to recognize signs and symptoms of cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, such as stroke, aortic dissection, coronary artery disease, heart valve disease, valvular abnormalities, inflammatory myocardial infarction, fibromyalgia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary tuberculosis and more. They can also treat underlying conditions, such as obesity and diabetes, that may impact the heart and lungs.
During the pulmonary rehabilitation, the physical therapists will use a combination of therapies, such as therapeutic exercises and non-invasive modalities, to improve a patient’s lung function. These include electrical stimulation, a technique that uses electrical current to cause a single muscle or group of muscles to contract. The contraction promotes blood supply to the area, which assists in healing. Ultrasound is another modality that uses high- or low-frequency sound waves to relax muscle tension, increase circulation to injured areas and speed wound healing.
In addition to assisting patients with their physical recovery, PTs will help educate them about how to prevent further health problems, such as diet and lifestyle changes. They can teach them how to maintain proper glucose levels and how to quit smoking, among other things. This helps to keep patients motivated and ensure they adhere to the treatment plan. During the program, patients usually attend sessions up to 36 times per week for one hour each.
Physical therapists working in this area specialize in the evaluation and treatment of patients suffering from conditions that affect the nervous system. This could include brain or spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and sciatica. This type of care can help reduce motor defects, improve balance, coordination and sensations, as well as increase strength and endurance.
In some cases, physical therapy can also help patients cope with the emotional and psychological effects of a neurological disorder, such as depression or anxiety. Some of these patients may require additional services from a specialist in the field, such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist.
Neurological rehabilitation is usually carried out in a specialized facility, such as an inpatient rehab hospital or long-term acute care hospital (LTACH). In some cases, patients can be treated at home by a physical therapist that specializes in this type of recovery, but it is important to discuss all of your options with your doctor.
If you or someone you know needs this type of rehabilitation, your therapist may recommend various movement therapies that will promote rehabilitation. These techniques can help you regain the ability to move normally again, even after an accident or illness. They are based on the Brunnstrom approach to movement, which uses a synergic pattern of muscular movements to improve movement and mobility.
Another type of therapy that is used for the management of neurologic disorders is electrical stimulation. This is a form of physical therapy that involves using electrodes to measure the health of your muscles and nerves, and can be used to decrease pain, relax muscle spasms and facilitate wound healing.
A therapist who specializes in women’s health will have specific training that focuses on the female body and how it can be affected by certain conditions, such as pelvic pain or osteoporosis. These experts can also work with pre- and postnatal women to assist in the prevention of conditions such as lymphedema and uterine fibroids.
If you are a physical therapist who wants to advance your career, consider applying for a clinical specialty certification. This can increase your earning potential and give you more job opportunities.
A physical therapist who specializes in women’s health is familiar with the unique issues that females face as they age. These specialists are able to assess and treat a variety of issues related to pelvic pain, urinary incontinence, and lymphedema. They are also knowledgeable in the special needs of gynecological patients, such as postpartum musculoskeletal problems and pelvic floor dysfunction.
In addition to their extensive knowledge of the female body, these specialists must be sensitive and understanding. These issues can be emotional and may require a great deal of personal interaction. For this reason, these experts must be able to build trust with their patients. They also need to be creative in their approach to treating these patients, as many of the problems that women have with their bodies are not easily identified or treated.
These physical therapists are often required to use their expertise in the management and treatment of complex chronic conditions that have a significant impact on the quality of life of their patients. They must be able to communicate with their patients, educate them about their condition, and help them develop a plan for managing it. They are also responsible for assessing the effectiveness of their treatment methods and making necessary changes.
A physical therapist who has achieved certification in women’s health must pass a written and clinical examination. The exam covers the areas of foundational science, behavioral science, clinical science and client/patient management. A physical therapist who has achieved board certification in women’s health demonstrates advanced knowledge in this area of practice and is a valuable member of the healthcare team. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) established a specialty in women’s health in 2004 and currently certifies 489 physical therapists in this field. A specialized physical therapist in women’s health is an expert in the evaluation, treatment, and management of all gender-specific disorders, injuries, and conditions. This includes the musculoskeletal and physiological changes that occur during pregnancy, including neck pain, lower back pain, and pelvic pain, as well as incontinence and joint pain. A specialized women’s health physical therapist is also well trained in the use of manual techniques and exercise to treat these conditions.
As the number of cancer survivors grows, so too does the demand for physical therapists who specialize in oncology. These therapists are trained to address a patient’s needs, which may include pain management, lymphedema and peripheral neuropathy resulting from chemotherapy or other cancer treatments.
In addition to addressing a patient’s immediate and long-term needs, oncology specialists help patients cope with the mental, emotional and social impact of cancer treatment. Survivors often struggle with loss of independence, as well as depression and anxiety stemming from the trauma of a diagnosis and/or treatment, which can negatively impact their quality of life.
Until recently, the focus of oncologic physical therapy was on the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular consequences of cancer and its therapies, including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. However, the emergence of new treatments has increased the prevalence and severity of chronic secondary sequelae from these therapies. These complications can be complex and may occur in multiple organ systems, including the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems.
To become certified in the oncologic specialty area, a physical therapist must either acquire 2000 hours of experience within the oncology population or complete an approved clinical residency program. For example, the oncology residency at William Beaumont Hospital outside Detroit was just granted approval and began accepting applications in September.
As of 2016, the APTA House of Delegates approved board certification in oncologic physical therapy and the first oncology specialist certification exam was administered in 2019. For more information about this specialty, visit the ABPTS website.
In a specialized field like oncology, it’s crucial that the physical therapist understands the intricacies of the disorder, such as the effect on the nervous system, the immune and gastrointestinal systems and other related symptoms that can be seen throughout the body. Fortunately, many of these issues are reversible with proper medical attention and the right physical therapy. With more and more people receiving positive outcomes from their cancer therapies, the need for oncology therapists is growing, making it an excellent option for physical therapists who are interested in expanding their knowledge base and advancing their careers.