Physical Therapy. History

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1 Physical Therapy History Physical therapy in the United States evolved from two major historical events: the polio epidemics of the 1800s through the 1950s and the effects of several wars. For example, Marguerite Sanderson and Mary McMillan were the first to be involved in training reconstruction aides, who cared for those wounded in World War I. Polio raged throughout the country in the 1920s and 1930s. The primary modes of treatment were isolation, immobilization, splinting, bed rest and, later, surgery. In 1940, Sister Elizabeth Kenny brought her treatment techniques for the management of patients with polio to the United States. The Salk vaccine virtually eradicated polio in the United States by The role of the physical therapist progressed increasingly in the 1950s from that of a technician to a professional practitioner. During World War II, drastic improvements in medicine and surgery led to increasing numbers of survivors with disabling wounds. The passage of the Hospital Survey and Construction Act of 1946 led to an increase in hospital-based practice for physical therapists. The Korean War again challenged physical therapists with the treatment of those with disabilities related to war wounds. Amendments to the Social Security Act (SSA) in 1967 added a definition of outpatient physical therapy services. Increasing numbers of states enacted such practice acts during the 1950s and 1960s. The practice of physical therapy for patients with neuromuscular disorders dramatically changed. In the 1960s and 1970s, cardiopulmonary physical therapy practice expanded with increasing chest physical therapy programs for pre- and post-operative patients. With the expansion of joint replacements, new avenues for orthopedic physical therapist practice emerged. The 1970s and 1980s saw the increased opportunities for practice with the implementation of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules and regulations, the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (PL ) and the AIDS epidemic. Physical therapists began providing services in the areas of women s health, oncology and hand rehabilitation. Specialty certification was developed. In the 1990s, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research led to new opportunities for practice. Physical therapists were faced with the challenges of increasing governmental cost savings, decreasing reimbursement, increasing governmental regulations, the influences of the insurance industry and corporate America, and the sudden personnel supply exceeding demand for services. 31

2 In the new millennium, the American Physical Therapy Association developed the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice, the CD-ROM version of the Guide, and the Hooked-on-Evidence project. Most states had some form of direct access, and bills were introduced on Capitol Hill to allow Medicare patients direct access to physical therapist services. Physical Therapy as a Career Today Today, with only a.2 percent unemployment rate, physical therapists are experiencing some of the best employment conditions. Physical therapists (PTs) are healthcare professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to the very oldest, who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. PTs examine each individual and develop a plan using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function and prevent disability. In addition, PTs work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles. Physical therapists provide care for people in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, work settings and nursing homes. State licensure is required in each state in which a physical therapist practices. Aptitude Physical therapists (PTs) work very closely with their patients in diagnosing their condition and planning their rehabilitation. In order to be a successful physical therapist, an individual needs to feel comfortable communicating with their patient and performing hands-on rehabilitation work. Depending upon the age and condition of the patient, it may take a considerable amount of time to get their body to function in a normal way. A physical therapist must have patience and offer their help every step of the way. Education Generally, admission to a Physical Therapy graduate program requires the following: A Baccalaureate degree from a regionally or nationally accredited college or university; a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (based on a semester system) in all undergraduate science and math courses (even those repeated); a grade of C or better in the following prerequisites courses: three semester hours in each in statistics, anatomy, physiology, advanced biology, public speaking, computer science and advanced English 32

3 composition; six semester hours in each in English composition, mathematics (algebra level or above) and psychology; and eight semester hours in each: chemistry, biology/ zoology and physics (all laboratory-based for science majors). Applicants must take the GRE which now includes an Analytical Writing Assessment. A minimum score of 800 on the Verbal and Quantitative sections of the GRE are required; 60 or more clock-hours of practical experience under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. All PTs must receive a graduate degree from an accredited physical therapist program before taking the national licensure examination that allows them to practice. The majority of programs offer the Doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree. The minimum educational requirement is a post-baccalaureate degree from an accredited education program. While some programs offer a Master s degree, a growing majority of programs offer the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. Currently, 199 colleges and universities nationwide offer professional physical therapist education programs; 85.7 percent offer the DPT and the remaining programs are planning to convert. Physical Therapy Programs in Louisiana Bossier Parish Community College, Bossier, LA; Physical Therapy Assistant Program; for further information, visit Delgado Community College, New Orleans, LA; Physical Therapy Assistant Program; for further information, visit Louisiana State University, School of Allied Health Sciences, New Orleans, LA; for further information, visit Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center- Shreveport, LA; for further information, visit Our Lady of the Lake College, Baton Rouge, LA; Physical Therapy Assistant Program; for further information, visit Scholarship Opportunities For additional listings, see the APTA web site: cfm&contentid=

4 Minority Scholarship Award for Academic Excellence Physical Therapist Students: This is an annual award offered to minority physical therapist students by the Physical Therapy Fund, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization supported by the American Physical Therapy Association. Physical Therapist Assistant Students: This is an annual award offered to minority physical therapist assistant students by the Physical Therapy Fund, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization supported by the American Physical Therapy Association. National Association of American Business Clubs (AMBUCS) website: Students must be accepted in an accredited program by the appropriate health therapy profession authority in physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, and hearing audiology. Assistant programs are not eligible. AMBUCS offers scholarships to students (U.S. citizens) in their junior/senior year in a Bachelor s degree program, or a graduate program leading to a Master s or Doctoral degree. Awards range from $500 to $1,500 annually. There is one two-year award in the amount of $6,000. Approximately $225,000 is awarded annually. The application is to be filled out online. Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) Provides scholarships to full-time, disadvantaged students with financial need who are enrolled in health professions and nursing programs. Eligible accredited programs include, schools of medicine, osteopathic medicine, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, podiatric medicine, veterinary medicine, nursing (diploma, Associate, Baccalaureate, graduate), public health, allied health (Baccalaureate and graduate degree programs in dental hygiene, medical laboratory technology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, radiologic technology), and graduate programs in clinical psychology. Contact: Federal Student Aid Information Center; P.O. Box 84; Washington, DC, 20044; Phone:

5 Salaries More than 170,000 physical therapists are licensed in the U.S. today. The median salary for a physical therapist is $75,000 depending on position, years of experience, degree of education, geographic location and practice setting. The salary of a physical therapist can range anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000, depending on the number and types of degrees earned. Professional Associations The American Physical Therapy Association The Louisiana Physical Therapy Association The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy Additional Web Resources 35

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