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A future in Pre-Physical Therapy
By Amber Gragert
A pre-physical therapy program will provide the guidance and prerequisite courses necessary to prepare students for graduate study in physical therapy. There are also typically opportunities to have concentrations within other majors, such as: biology, health sciences and physical education. Before we delve into all of that though, let's discuss what physical therapy is.
Physical therapy is a relatively young profession that began during the polio epidemics and world wars in the early 1900s. With those events, there was an inflation in the number of young people suffering from mobility issues. By definition physical therapy is, "The treatment of disease, injury, or deformity by physical methods such as massage, heat treatment, and exercise rather than by drugs or surgery." So, this is the approach taken when searching for pain relief and even healing without the use of narcotics and/or "going under the knife” and in some cases as a rehabilitation method after a surgery. So how is this accomplished?
Well, the patient may be recovering from an injury, surgery, or suffer from a disability or disease. So a physical therapy professional first performs physical evaluations on their patients to determine the potential for rehabilitation and a course of treatment. Part of the evaluation process is deciding how much of the rehabilitation can happen simply through life style changes. This is so the therapist can educate the patient and their family (and/or other caretakers) on how to go about adjusting their environment and habits for the best healing outcome. After which, the therapist can treat their patient's disabilities by way of exercise, manual techniques - such as massage and stretching, performance of functional mobility activities and physical agents. Patients are also taught how to remain healthy, prevent injury, and maintain a healthy and physically active lifestyle.
Remember, this is usually not a major, but a program that, when completed will aid in your decisions on what specifics you want to focus on when applying to graduate school.
In this program of study, you will gain a firm understanding of the science of movement - which is without a doubt key to getting the best results for your patients. This information and knowledge will build nicely upon the foundational biology you learned in high school and it will take shape all through graduate school. Your course work will include subjects such as: anatomy & physiology, biology, chemistry, developmental psychology, exercise physiology, physics and, very likely, hands-on learning through internships. You will learn to consider how factors like age, diet, health history, genetics, and lifestyle influence mobility, and athletic performance.
You could help promote human health, wellness, and function through care as a physical therapist and work in any number of places such as: home health care, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, sports clinics, and veteran rehabilitation centers. If you are seriously devoted to serving and helping others and have excellent communication skills, all while being drawn to a healthcare profession, then a pre-physical therapy program would be a nice fit for you.