Best Online Degrees in: Physical Therapy
Explore a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy
Physical therapists must possess a postgraduate professional degree, typically a Doctor of Physical Therapy. To be eligible for professional physical therapy programs, students must have a bachelor's degree and must have completed certain prerequisites. During their undergraduate education, students often pursue a degree in kinesiology, exercise physiology, nutrition, or biology in a pre-physical therapy track, although no specific major is required. Most physical therapists are required to possess analytical thinking and communication skills, and to maintain physical fitness.
Core course work in a pre-physical therapy track typically requires classes in human anatomy and physiology, chemistry, biology, and health and fitness. Physical therapy requires course work in biomechanics, neuroscience, and pharmacology. Most classes correspond with laboratory course work to demonstrate concepts presented in lecture.
- Biomechanics. Biomechanics covers basic mechanics in organic behavior, and works to describe movement in biological and physical processes. Students learn to identify human structural components of the skeletal and muscular systems and the muscle actions used to produce movement.
- Pharmacology.Pharmacology studies drug effects on the neurosystem, cardiovascular diseases, the respiratory tract, drugs that influence metabolic and endocrine functions, chemotherapy, and the principles of toxicology. Students are familiarized with the names, classifications, and mechanisms of drugs.
- Exercise Physiology. Exercise Physiology covers the effects of exercise on body systems like stress, muscular fitness and cardiovascular analysis. Exercise physiology usually requires competency in human anatomy and physiology.
Pre-physical therapy students may be required to conduct studies through surveys or volunteer subjects and analyze data sets or recent research related to physical therapy. Students may be required or encouraged to complete internships at healthcare or physical training facilities.
Building a Career
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of physical therapists in May 2010 was $76,310. Employment is expected to increase 39% for physical therapists between 2010 and 2020. Most physical therapists work in health practitioner offices or state, local, and private offices. They require licensing through the state, which typically requires passing the National Physical Therapy Examination and maintaining licensure through continuing education course work.
Physical therapists work with a variety of patients with functional problems due to injuries or illness, including sprains, strains, amputations, stroke, birth conditions, and sports or work related injuries. They are trained in a variety of modalities to care for patients, depending on the patient diagnoses. Physical therapists will outline a plan for each patient and evaluate their progress, modifying the plan and communicating the course of action to the patient and their family throughout the course of treatment.