Physical therapist stretching leg of patientPhysical therapists are experts in movement and function of the body. Physical therapy is the medical practice that utilizes therapeutic exercise, physical modalities (as massage and electrotherapy), assistive devices, and patient education and training for the preservation, enhancement, or restoration of movement and physical function impaired or threatened by disability, injury, or disease. Physical therapists teach patients the appropriate ways to move or perform particular tasks to prevent further injury and to promote health and wellness. According to US News and World Report, Physical Therapists is #14 on the best career in the country

View the University of Alabama Physical Therapy Admissions Guide for more information.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, physical therapists typically do the following:

  • Review patients’ medical history and any referrals or notes from doctors, surgeons, or other healthcare workers
  • Diagnose patients’ functions and movements by observing them stand or walk and by listening to their concerns, among other methods
  • Develop individualized plans of care for patients, outlining the patients’ goals and the expected outcomes of the plans
  • Use exercises, stretching maneuvers, hands-on therapy, and equipment to ease patients’ pain, help them increase their mobility, prevent further pain or injury, and facilitate health and wellness
  • Evaluate and record a patient’s progress, modifying a plan of care and trying new treatments as needed
  • Educate patients and their families about what to expect from the recovery process and how best to cope with challenges throughout the process

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