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  1. 1. Matt Koziol<br />Dr. Stephanie Anderson Quinn<br />English 2950<br />April 11, 2011<br />Physical Therapy Research Paper<br />The meaning of physical therapy is a health care profession that provides treatment to individuals to develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and function throughout life. However there are many different specialties of physical therapy one can study. For example, orthopedic, geriatrics, neurological, cardiopulmonary, pediatrics, athletics, and one could choose to be a general physical therapist, which sees it all. The question that came to me when I got into physical therapy was how do physical therapists go about choosing their path of physical therapy. In this paper I will explain each specialization in physical therapy, try to see if there is a pattern of personality in the types of physical therapists, and present the information from actual physical therapists in different fields about how and why they choose their field.<br />There are a great number of different career paths a physical therapist can choose from. However, because there are so many career options it can be tough to decide which path best fits you. The key to choosing the path of physical therapy is to understanding each path that is available. There are six basic categories of physical therapy that one can specialize in, which include, orthopedics, geriatrics, neurological, cardiopulmonary, pediatrics, and athletics. It is important to understand each of the different specializations, in order to see which one you can see yourself working in.<br />Although there are multiple different paths to take in physical therapy all physical therapists have a similar goal and mission and that is to maintain and restore function and mobility to patients of all ages. Even though there are many different pathways to take in physical therapy it is possible to not specialize and be a general physical therapist, one that over sees it all. Normally these physical therapists work in a hospital type setting seeing in-patients. The type of patients they see range from any age and also the injuries they see differ on a daily basis as well.<br />The specialization of orthopedics is one of the most well known areas to specialize in. The type of therapy they do works with the musculoskeletal system which is the system of muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and joints that move and maintain the form of the body (Roja, 2010). They see patients following post- operative orthopedic procedures and normally treat imbalance or dysfunction due to injury and surgery. They use skills learned from biomechanics and kinesiology to treat their patients and bring them back to their daily activities (Rehab Students, 2010).<br />Next, there is the specialization of geriatrics, which physical therapists work with patients around 65 years of age and up. This area of specialization is one of the more difficult areas because there is a lot to take into consideration when a physical therapist is working with this type of patient. The therapists need to develop a treatment plan that is appropriate for an elder patient. Not only is their age a factor, but there are other complications such as medicines the patient is on and other illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.<br />“Working with geriatric patients your treatment plans need to be at a slower and at a calmer pace, in order for the patient to be able to keep up and complete their treatments.” Said Janet Ross, a geriatric physical therapist. The goals of the patient are also different from most other patients because the elderly just want to complete task such as get in and out of bed and be able to do things independently again.<br />If a physical therapist is looking for a challenging yet rewarding path neurology is the way to go. These physical therapist need to further their education in areas of pathology. The types of patients that are treated in this path have disorders like mental retardation, Parkinson’s disease, and spinal cord injury (Rehab Students, 2010). After a spinal cord or brain injury many functions and sensations may be lost and this type of physical therapist have the knowledge to teach people how to move correctly again. There main focus is to make sure that their patient’s nerve cells and motor functions work as they should (Weiss, 2010). In this type of therapy it takes many years of schooling because the therapist must be prepared to work with the complex system know as the nervous system.<br />Cardiopulmonary physical therapists specialize in cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation. This type of therapy focuses on increasing endurance and functional independence (Roja, 2010). The types of patients seen in this path usually have had heart surgery or have cystic fibrosis, disease of the lungs. For this type of therapy therapists have to further their education in cardiopulmonary conditions. Types of therapy done on these patients include, breathing exercises, coughing, and incentive spirometry. Patients who seek this type of therapy their main goal is to breathe more freely and to get more oxygen into their body.<br />The path of pediatrics in physical therapy works with infants, children, and adolescence (Rehab Students, 2010). The most difficult part of this path is not only developing a treatment plan to help the patient regain normal function but also understanding how the patient’s condition will affect the child’s development. Since children go through growing stages the therapist must make sure that the therapy will not affect any growing milestones. For example, over the summer I worked with a pediatric physical therapist, Meghan Bollinger, and got to witness this first hand. When a newborn baby is growing there are certain milestones in development that the child must achieve, for example, rolling onto its belly, and lifting his head. The baby that was the patient had just had heart surgery but because of this he was late on achieving the milestones. It was the physical therapists job to come up with different exercises to help the baby reach the milestones. In order to be a pediatric physical therapist it requires you to be creative and patient.<br />Lastly, one of the most popular paths of physical therapy is the athletic side. This path most physical therapist work with a sports team or they open up there own rehabilitation center that focuses just on athletes. The goal of these physical therapists is to get the athlete working at top athletic performance like they were before they got injured. It’s all about getting the patient recovered and back onto the field as quick as possible. This type of therapy can get frustrating, however, because most athletes are stubborn and just want to be healthy again right away. After speaking with an athletic physical therapist, Jim Rosko, he says, “You have to be sort of tough on the athlete so they stick to their treatment plan.” These types of therapist know that their patients can endure more challenging therapy because they are athletes and can keep up with that type of therapy.<br />After doing research on my topic of what type of people work in these different specializations, I discovered that it’s not so much that personalities differ from one path to the other. Where personalities and characteristics differ is a physical therapist that is just a general one and over sees everything, compared to all the therapists in specializations. There was a study done back in 1982 that proved this. <br />Susan Rovezzi- Carroll and Ronnie Leavitt designed the project and their goal was to examine the personality characteristics of physical therapy students who had different career goals. They administered the Myers- Briggs Type Indicator test and a brief demographic information sheet that elicited career choice information to the graduating class of 1982 at the University of Connecticut School of Allied Health Professions. These two instruments were used to collect data to see the personality differences in the graduating physical therapists (Rovezzi- Carroll, 1984).<br />This topic of research is very important in the sense that, selecting the right physical therapy path that fits your personality may not only contribute to job satisfaction but also job stability. Upon completing this research and correlating the data the information showed that there were differences between specialty physical therapists and generalist physical therapist. The Myers- Briggs test showed that students that are planning on being a generalist physical therapist preferred Sensing and Judging dimensions. Meaning they prefer routines and like practicing old skills instead of learning new ones. On the other hand, students going into specialties scored higher on the Intuitive and Perceiving scale. Meaning they are very good at adapting to new ideas and situations. They tend to stay away from routines, they enjoy problem solving, and like to work in different settings (Rovezzi- Carroll, 1984).<br />This data correlates perfectly with students who want to be generalists or go on into a specialty. Since the generalists scored in higher in the area of Sensing and Judging they prefer routines tasks. This goes perfectly with the roles of a generalist clinician because they will be practicing in a tradition physical therapy setting like in a hospital that has all their physical therapy needs. They follow a daily routine and work normal hours. The patients they see will not have problems that are specific so they wont have to learn new skills, they can stick to what they are comfortable with. Every day will most likely follow the same type of pattern (Rovezzi- Carroll, 1984). However, the students that are planning to become a specialist differ greatly because they scored higher in Intuitive and Perceiving. This correlates because these types of people like to learn new ideas and these types of therapists will need to further their education in a certain specialization. They work with all different types of people, depending on their specialization, so their work is never the same routine. Therapists with specialization also work in many different settings, for example, schools, athletic facilities, and rehab centers. Specialty therapists normally have flexible hours and they are able to adapt (Rovezzi- Carroll, 1984). Once I discovered this information presented by Rovezzi- Carroll and Leavitt, I realized that maybe my question should be why do physical therapists choose to become a generalist or a specialist.<br />“Physical therapy is a tough yet rewarding career,” said Megan Bollinger, a pediatric physical therapist that used to work at University Hospitals. When I asked her why she got into physical therapy she said, “Because she likes to help people and she knows she makes a difference in the child’s life.” She choose to be a specialist because she wanted to work with kids because she can be more creative in her therapy techniques. This fit with the results from the specialists in the personality experiment.<br />Next I interviewed Janet Ross, a geriatric physical therapist. When I asked her why she got into her type of physical therapy she said, “Because its nice to work with the older population, not only do I get them to performing everyday tasks independently, but her patients just like to see me and they enjoy my company.” I feel like this also fit with the results from the personality experiment because she works in the homes of her patients so she adapts to her settings.<br />Finally, I talked to Jim Rosko, he is an athletic physical therapist at university Hospitals. When I asked why he got into his type of physical therapy he said, “Because he once was an athlete and he like to help athletes get better and get back onto the field.” This specialty also fits with the personality results because in order to be an athletic physical therapist you need to be able to deal with an athlete. It can be tough because many of them just want to be fixed right away so you need to be creative and persistent when working with these types of patients.<br />In conclusion, choosing what type of physical therapy career fits you best may be challenging, but in order to have success and enjoyment one needs to understand which area fits them best. Going into this paper I thought that personalities would change from different specialization. What I realized from Rovezzi- Carroll and Leavitt that the difference in personalities comes from a generalist therapist and a specialty therapist. However, choosing the certain specialty comes from what interests you. One needs to be willing to learn new information about their specialty. This research has answered many question and opened my eyes to see that therapists become specialists because they enjoy and want to keep learning about their specialty, not just because of their personality.<br />References<br />1. Roja, J. “Understanding the different physical therapy specializations.” Article Base,<br />2. Author unknown, “Specialties.” RehabStudents.<br />3. Weiss, T. “Neurological Physical Therapy.” Disabled World.<br />4. Author unknown. “Physical therapy.” Google Docs.<br /> <br />5. Rovezzi- Carrol, S., & Leavitt, R. “Personality characteristics and expressed career choice of graduating physical therapy students.” Pt Journal.<br />6. Author Unknown. “Orthopedic Physical Therapy.” Physical Therapy. <br /><br />7. Myers, Isabel. “MBTI Basics.” The Myers & Briggs Foundation.<br /><br />