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What Is A Physical Therapist, & What Do They Do?

December 8, 2021
June 21, 2023
Happy female physiotherapist giving leg massage to active senior woman in sports center

Imagine a worker who is sitting down to her office desk hoping to finish up an important report that needs to be submitted to the company executives by the end of the day. Despite the fact that the worker has all the information needed to put together the report, and the knowledge and experience needed for the task, an agonizing back pain that has been bothering her for several weeks has flared up once again and made it impossible to concentrate on her work. As the hours tick by and pain worsens, her attention span is obviously reduced and the final report that she submits to the executives is substandard, at best.  


Every year, pain, discomfort, and the distress caused by health problems cause enormous losses in productivity to businesses around the country. Not only are workers’ productivity levels negatively affected when they are suffering from pain, but pain is one of the leading causes of absenteeism from the workplace. According the National Institute for Health (NIH), “the prevalence of lost-workday back pain was 4.6%, and individuals with work-related cases lost 101.8 million workdays owing to back pain.”  


Obviously, then, finding ways to help your workforce recover from pain and physical injury is an important part of maintaining a productive and thriving workplace culture. Physical therapists are one of the best resources available to employers and Human Resource managers who are looking to help their workforce improve their quality of lives while simultaneously reducing productivity (and financial) losses that are associated with unresolved employee health issues causing pain.   

What is a Physical Therapist?  

A physical therapist (PT) is a health professional who specializes in evaluating and treating human body disorders. A physical therapist may find work in a hospital or clinical setting, though they also regularly work in athletic departments, schools, and long-term care facilities. It is increasingly common to find physical therapists engaged in injury prevention activities as well. .  


A physical therapist can help people manage and recover from illnesses or injuries to the following bodily systems:  

  • Musculoskeletal system (dealing with the bones and muscles) 
  • Neurological systems (dealing with the brain) 
  • Cardiopulmonary system (dealing with the heart and lungs) 
  • Integumentary system (dealing with the skin) 


What Does a Physical Therapist Do?  

When receiving treatment from a licensed physical therapist, one can expect them to perform a thorough physical examination to diagnose the root causes of the pain or discomfort the patient is experiencing. After diagnosing the issue (or the potential for future health problems), the PT is trained to recommend specific exercises and stretching movements to help you recover or otherwise deal with your health problems.  


The end goal with all physical therapists is to restore physical wellness through improvements in range of motion, strength, posture and function. Because each year, half of all Americans over the age of 18 will develop a musculoskeletal injury that lasts longer than three months, consistent physical therapy treatment can also play an important role in reducing future needs for prescription drugs, surgery, or other serious medical interventions.  

What Education is Required to be a Physical Therapist?  

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Physical therapists need a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). DPT programs typically last 3 years. Physical therapy programs typically require a bachelor's degree, which may be in recreation and fitness or healthcare and related fields, and prerequisite courses such as anatomy, chemistry, and physics.” 


Unfortunately, many people simply do not take advantage of the important services that physical therapy offers. In 2011, only around 11.7 million adults took advantage of outpatient physical therapy services. This figure is significantly lower than the total number of people who suffer from debilitating pain.  

Nurture A Pain-Free Workforce With Work-Fit 

improve employee r quality of life, increase your business’s productivity and reduce absenteeism with Work-Fit’s holistic injury prevention programs, our injury prevention and injury management programs..  


Work-Fit is a leading onsite and telehealth injury prevention and management company for your workforce. We have a multi-disciplinary team of sports medicine professionals working across a variety of industries.  Contact Work-Fit today to improve your employee health and integrate with your safety programs.  We’re ready to protect your workers and your bottom line!  


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