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Picture this scenario: you are working in a summer construction job, which requires a great deal of heavy lifting. One afternoon, as you are moving cement blocks, your back goes out on you. You and the cement fall to the floor and you lie helpless with your back in agony! Who do you turn to for therapy and rehabilitation treatment to get back to health (pardon the pun)? A physiotherapist will come to your rescue and help restore your injured back.

Physiotherapists, also called physical therapists, provide diagnostic treatment designed to restore and maintain body parts, and prevent disability or dysfunction in injured people. They have a comprehensive understanding of how the body works and can personally assess each patient and prescribe a rehabilitation plan to help relieve pain and restore movement. Physiotherapists aid people who have been injured or ill return to a healthy lifestyle. They also help those with permanent disabilities to try and achieve the highest possible level of physical function. Their patients include accident victims, (for example, someone that needs to learn how to walk again), people with disabling conditions such as arthritis, lower back pain, body fractures, heart disease, head injuries, and cerebral palsy.

Physiotherapists employ numerous methods to treat their patients and get them back to a state when they were able to move freely and properly. These rehabilitation techniques include stretching, therapeutic exercises, massage, hydrotherapy, and manipulations, such as joint mobilization. Physiotherapists teach patients specific stretches and exercises to perform everyday at home; thereby allowing the patients to take a more active role in their recovery and therapy process. They also perform ultrasounds, use microwave machines, infrared and ultraviolet lamps, and laser equipment.

During a patient's visit, the physiotherapist monitors their progress and suggests treatment modifications. Physical therapy is the long-term type of rehabilitation, so therapists must encourage their patients to be patient, practice the stretches, attend treatments religiously. A bone does not heal overnight. Physiotherapists are also health educators, and they teach their patients about their body so that they can try and prevent future injuries or pain.

Physiotherapists might focus on particular clinical area such as neurology, orthopaedics, cardiorespiratory health or pediatrics or treat specific disorders or injuries in sports medicine, injuries, burns or arthritis. Physiotherapists may also work in a multidisciplinary team, or in a joint practice with other health care professionals such as social workers, occupational therapists, chiropractors, physicians, nurses, speech therapists, psychologists, prosthetists, physicians and dentists.
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Southern California Health Institute
Since 1996, Southern California Health Institute has been dedicated and committed to helping students achieve their dreams by providing an exceptional education that enables them to become skilled and successful manual therapists.
Programs Offered:
  • Physical Therapy Aide/Sports Rehab Program



  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Physiotherapists must be in good shape, good health and maintain high physical stamina. They must be excellent communicators and enjoy helping people. Their interpersonal skills will include patience and compassion which is required to work with sick and disabled people. They generally have good coordination and manual dexterity, and enjoy solving analytical health-related problems. Finally, they must be able to motivate people and teach their patients about preventative care.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Assess muscle function, movement disorders and a patient's ability to function
  • Plan and implement individually designed programs of physical treatment to maintain, improve or restore patients' physical functions, alleviate pain and prevent physical problems
  • Continually evaluate a patient's progress and try new treatment therapies
  • Include exercise, manipulations, massage, hydrotherapy and the use of electrotherapeutic and other mechanical equipment as part of a rehabilitation program
  • Use manual therapy and physical agents to alleviate pain and treat movement disorders
  • Provide information about injury prevention, ergonomics and ways to promote fitness, health and wellness
  • Design, implement and modify exercise programs
  • Confer with other health care professionals and refer special patients to surgeons if necessary
  • Teach patients and their families and guide them in therapeutic exercises and other activities to improve health and abilities
  • Physiotherapists' work requires a great deal of bending, stretching, standing and reaching. Therefore physical strength and health is crucial for anyone considering a career in this field. They may have to help lift patients who are unable to move, and lift and adjust heavy equipment. Physiotherapists generally work long weekdays, with the possibility of evening and weekend work to meet patients' schedules.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Physiotherapists work in physical therapy clinics, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, extended care facilities, schools, sports injury and acupuncture clinics, rehabilitation divisions of psychiatric treatment facilities, home care programs, government departments and aboriginal health clinics. Some physiotherapists work for professional and national sports teams.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Physiotherapists with experience may leave a clinic or hospital to open up their own physiotherapy clinic. Or they may advance to supervisory and management positions at their place of work. Physiotherapists with master's and doctoral degrees may decide to teach or conduct research at the university level. Another option is to go into individual consulting. Physiotherapists could design rehabilitation programs for workers and do assessments for insurance purposes.

  Educational Paths  
Physiotherapists must have a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy at a minimum. Entrance to some physical therapy programs now require applicants to have an undergraduate university degree before applying. Once graduated from this program, physiotherapists must successfully complete the regional physiotherapy licensing exams to become a registered physiotherapist.

Many people are now earning a kinesiology degree before studying physical therapy. Physiotherapists may also get a master's or doctoral degree in orthopaedics, neuroscience or any other related specialty and teach or conduct research at the university level. It is a good idea to volunteer at a physiotherapy clinic, or work with disabled athletes or Special Olympics groups.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

Featured Schools

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Southern California Health Institute
Since 1996, Southern California Health Institute has been dedicated and committed to helping students achieve their dreams by providing an exceptional education that enables them to become skilled and successful manual therapists.
Programs Offered:
  • Physical Therapy Aide/Sports Rehab Program

Advanced College
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At National Holistic Institute, our history and network of relationships in the field continue to help our graduates succeed. With campuses across California, we offer a comprehensive massage therapy training program that prepares our graduates for a successful career in massage therapy. Whether you are looking to start your career or take it to the next level, NHI has a program for you.
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