Physical therapists (PTs) are experts in movement, especially movement that must be addressed once there is a change in the “normal” movement patterns. PTs examine each individual and develop a plan using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability.
Physical therapists provide care for people in a home health agencies as well as in a variety of other settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, schools, sports and fitness facilities, work settings, and nursing homes. State licensure is required in each state in which a physical therapist practices. All PTs must receive a graduate degree from an accredited physical therapist program before taking the national licensure examination that allows them to practice. The majority of programs offer the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree.
The Home Health Physical Therapist
Many home health physical therapists find it rewarding to help people reclaim their lives and their routines in the places where they live. If you ask a home health physical therapist, he or she will probably tell you that it can be difficult in the clinic to identify the functional goals and outcomes that will best ensure improvement in the patient’s quality of life. However, when a physical therapist is in the home of someone with a physical impairment, he or she can see right away the kinds of goals that need to be accomplished.
Physical therapists who choose to practice in-home health often describe themselves to have a greater sense of autonomy, uninterrupted one-on-one time with patients, and deep appreciation from patients and their families.
A patient’s first visit by a home health physical therapist will include an evaluation. He or she will perform an examination to identify current and potential problems. Based on the results of the examination, and considering specific goals, the physical therapist will design a plan of care to include specific interventions and will propose a timetable to achieve these goals and optimize function. The physical therapist will likely provide the patient with instructions to perform exercises to facilitate recovery.
A Closer Look at Home Health Physical Therapy
Home health care is the provision of skilled therapy services in the patient’s place of residence. While the majority of patients are senior citizens, there also are pediatric patients with developmental disabilities and other conditions, and individuals of all ages in between who need rehabilitation because of injury or other causes. Home care may actually be provided in the patient’s residence, the caregiver’s home, a hospital emergency room, skilled nursing facility, residential facility, group home, hospice, or elsewhere in the community.
The following are health conditions commonly seen in home health:
- Total joint replacements
- Progressive neurological conditions
- Fall risk
- Chronic pain
- Heart Failure
Skills used by a physical therapist in home health include:
- Gait Training
- Transfer Training
- Home Exercise Program Development
- Home Exit Management
- Fall Prevention
- Progressive Resistive Exercises
- Pain Management
- Incontinence Treatment
- Wound Care
- Neuropathy Treatment