Wayne State University

About physical therapy

Who are physical therapists?

Physical therapists (PTs) are licensed and dynamic health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to the very old, who have functional limitations, disabilities or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform activities ranging from basic activities of daily living to the highest levels of athletic competition. PTs examine each individual and develop customized rehabilitation plans using basic to highly specialized treatment techniques and technologies to promote mobility, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. PTs work with a wide range of musculoskeletal, neurological, and medical conditions. Some examples of diagnoses of individuals who might be seen by a physical therapist include athletic injury, rotator cuff (shoulder) injury, ACL knee injury, total joint replacement, back pain, amputation, stroke, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. In addition, PTs work with individuals to prevent the loss of function and mobility before it occurs by developing fitness and wellness oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.

What do physical therapists earn?

According to the American Physical Therapists Association, there are more than 204,000 licensed physical therapists n the U.S. The median salary for a physical therapist is $85,000, depending on position, years of experience, degree of education, geographic location, and practice setting. Read more about PT salaries at www.apta.org/AboutPTs.

What is the job outlook for the physical therapy profession?

Employment for physical therapists is expected to grow by 36% from 2012 to 2022, which is much faster than the average occupation. Demand for services will continue to grow as the population ages. Visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook to learn more about PT job outlook.