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5 Types of Physical Therapy Jobs You May Not Know About

5 Types of Physical Therapy Jobs You May Not Know About

The medical field offers an immense number of amazing career opportunities. While nearly everyone knows about the wide range of specialties and subspecialties for physicians, one of the most diverse medical careers is the field of physical therapy.

Physical therapy is often unrecognized for its diversity in job roles and patient populations, as it is a common assumption that physical therapy jobs focus on helping injured or patients after surgery to regain their mobility.

This type of physical therapy work is called orthopedic physical therapy and involves restoring mobility after an injury or surgery. While this is a very important aspect of physical therapy, there are many fascinating subcategories you could also explore if you prefer to specialize.

Callout 1 image of physical therapy room with text

If you are interested in the field of physical therapy and wish to learn more about the niche specialties within the PT field, check out the list below which contains some of the most interesting jobs in the field. If any of the specialities stand out to you, review our job listings to see who may be hiring in your area.

1. Neurological Physical Therapy

A neurological physical therapist is a PT who is specialized in helping patients who suffer from physical issues stemming from issues with the brain and nervous system.

Whether from a degenerative disease such as Alzheimer's or a traumatic brain injury, neurological PT’s help their patients to regain lost mobility and strengthen muscles that may have weakened.

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2. Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy

Just like your biceps or hamstrings, the heart is a muscle. Like any other muscle, the heart may require the assistance of a physical therapist if it is weakened from a traumatic event such as a heart attack.

Cardiopulmonary physical therapists are specialized in helping patients who have suffered a cardiopulmonary event or suffer from cardiopulmonary disease, to strengthen their heart through education and exercise.

3. Geriatric Physical Therapy

Unlike cheese and wine, the human body does not typically get better with age. Unfortunately for many of us, our musculoskeletal systems start to deteriorate as we get older. In many cases, an individual’s mobility may be hampered by the deterioration of the leg or back muscles.

These are the people who stand to benefit from geriatric physical therapy. This specialized niche of PT aims to help individuals regain mobility and independence that have been lost due to the presence of arthritis, osteoporosis, or the general deterioration of the muscles and bones.

4. Decongestive Physical Therapy

Complete decongestive therapy, or CDT, is a type of physical therapy that focuses on the lymphatic system. Damaged lymph nodes can lead to cases of lymphedema, a condition caused by the lymph fluid not being able to drain properly. The blocked fluid can collect in pockets in the arms or legs, and can be quite painful.

Decongestive physical therapy deals with helping patients drain the fluid buildups through a variety of techniques including manual massage, compression bandages or garments, or exercise. Regular treatment has shown to help reduce the buildup of fluids, which in turn makes dealing with lymphedema more manageable.

5. Pediatric Physical Therapy

Pediatric PT encompasses all of the above techniques and specialities, but deals with a patient population of children. Since children respond differently to treatment than adults, the therapy techniques need to be altered to fit their needs. Pediatric physical therapy does just that, and adds even more services to help children with a wide variety of needs.

Whether the child has suffered an injury, or suffers from a physical disease or neurological condition, pediatric therapists are equipped to help them improve strength, increase coordination and improve on cognitive development.

Besides the different specialties, there are also a wide range of settings in which you could practice.

  • Rehabilitation Hospital - Physical therapy is provided to patients admitted to a facility or rehabilitation unit in a hospital with the goal of improving the person’s ability to care for himself or herself independently.
  • Subacute Rehab - Patients are admitted to a special hospital that provides medical and/or rehabilitation care.
  • Extended Care/Nursing Home - Patients are admitted to a facility caring for elderly patients to provide long-term nursing care.
  • Outpatient/Private Practice - In the most common physical therapy setting, patients visit a physical therapist in a clinic,, office, or facility to address primarily orthopedic and neuromuscular injuries.
  • Wellness/Sports/Fitness - In this setting, physical therapy is focused on preventing injury and illness and promoting a healthy lifestyle, as opposed to treatment of diseases.
  • Home Health - Physical therapy is provided in the patient’s place of residence. Patient population could range from senior citizens to children with a range of injuries or disabilities.

No matter what kind of physical therapy you are interested in or where you want to practice, let Hospital Careers help you get connected with your dream job. With thousands of listing in the medical careers industry, Hospital Careers can provide you with the resources to find, and get hired, in your desired field.

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