After sustaining a serious injury or enduring an illness that has impacted mobility, many patients must undergo rehabilitation. The role of a physical therapist is to help patients get back in shape and regain mobility. A physical therapist renders a diagnosis on a patient’s movement issues and discusses concerns. A treatment plan is then developed to include various exercises and stretching activities, in addition to using therapeutic techniques and rehabilitation equipment. Assistance with standing and moving injured body parts, plus teaching pain management techniques, are part of a physical therapist’s daily tasks.
Compassion For People
Working with others is the core of a physical therapist’s job. There is no way to render therapy without dealing one-on-one with the patient. A good physical therapist will have a genuine compassion toward patients and be able to empathize with those going through the rehabilitation process.
Attentiveness To Details
Observing a patient and noticing specifics about movement issues is critical for a good physical therapist. Watching for facial expressions, such as a grimace during movement, helps a physical therapist pinpoint areas of pain, render an accurate diagnosis and create a follow-up plan of action. When a detail is missed, the wrong exercise or stretching maneuver could be prescribed, leading to more mobility problems for the patient. Noticing a body part is being moved at an incorrect angle during a therapeutic exercise and demonstrating the correct method aids in the recovery process.
Effective Communication Skills
A good physical therapist has above-average communication skills with the ability to articulate the proper treatment plan for a patient and to provide education and instructions on any exercises a client should perform at home. Communication is a two-way street, with a good physical therapist capable of listening intently to a patient’s questions and comments in order to develop the right treatment plan.
Strength, Stamina and Endurance
Helping an injured patient requires physical strength, stamina and endurance. A typical day for a physical therapist includes much standing, bending and moving to assist patients during therapy exercises. Coordination skills are also a must for a good physical therapist as this field requires hands-on work administering therapeutic treatments.
- U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Physical Therapists: What Physical Therapists Do
- U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Physical Therapists: How To Become A Physical Therapist
- U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Physical Therapists: Pay
Kelli Peacock Dunn has been a news editor and photographer since 1998, working at a weekly newspaper in Northwest Florida. Her articles have also appeared in "Panama City Living" magazine and "The Lookout."