The top physical therapy specializations include cardiovascular/pulmonary, geriatric, pediatric, orthopedic and sports therapy. These are far from the only physical therapy specializations, but they are probably the most sought-after services in this field. These five specializations are listed in further detail below.
Physical therapists that specialize in cardiovascular or pulmonary therapy are concerned with treating diseases and dysfunctions in the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Patients suffering from CHF, COPD and post operative heart disease often come to physical therapists practicing this specialty to consult about the various exercises and treatments that they can use to increase their health. Physical therapists must complete post graduate work in this specialization before they can practice it.
There is a great demand for physical therapy from the elderly population, and this will only continue to increase as the “Baby Boomers” enter their golden years. Conditions such as cancer, COPD, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other age-related afflictions make the physical therapy needs of the elderly very unique. There are many job opportunities in this field right now in physical therapy practices, nursing homes and assisted living centers.
As a physical therapist specializing in pediatric therapy, you would receive additional training on conditions that affect children during your graduate studies. Various conditions of the bones, muscles, organs, skin and brain affect children differently than they do adults, because their bodies are still developing. Treatment plans must not only take the condition into consideration, but the future development of the child as a result.
Physical therapists that specialize in orthopedics are focused on the musculoskeletal system and conditions that affect joint function and muscle balance that can lead to everything from birth defects to overuse and injury to surgery. These specialized physical therapists train in biomechanics and kinesiology during their graduate studies so that they can develop treatment plans and restore their patients back to their natural, harmonious balance.
The sports therapy industry is booming, with more and more athletes pushing their bodies to the limits and newer technologies being developed all the time, to treat injuries and keep athletes on the top of their game. A sports physical therapist might sometimes compete with athletic trainers and sports massage specialists, but their specialized medical training gives them a unique leg up on the competition. Preventing and treating sports injuries in athletes is all in a day’s work for a sports physical therapist.