What Are the Different Types of Physical Therapy Required Courses?

Susan Abe
Susan Abe
Following their completion of school, physical therapists must take a national exam.
Following their completion of school, physical therapists must take a national exam.

Physical therapists — informally referred to as PT's — are healthcare professionals who evaluate, plan appropriate treatment modalities and administer such treatment to patients who experience mobility issues secondary to disease, injury or disability. PT's are prepared to practice with an undergraduate bachelor's degree followed by graduate school to specifically study a physical therapy curriculum. Following graduation from an accredited school, physical therapy students must pass a national test to be licensed by examination. Physical therapists are employed in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, clinics, nursing homes, university athletic departments and home health care agencies. Physical therapy required courses must therefore take into account all these possible areas of practice and include classes that cover normal functional anatomy and physiology, diagnosis and treatment of injury and multiple clinical internships.

Physical therapists are employed in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals.
Physical therapists are employed in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals.

Although the majority of physical therapy students have studied human anatomy and physiology as undergraduates, graduate school physical therapy required courses include more in-depth classes such as human anatomy, surface anatomy, human pathology and kinesiology. The tenets of the healthcare discipline itself are established with courses such as Introduction to Physical Therapy Practice and a yearlong study that involves Principles of Physical Therapy I and Principles of Physical Therapy II. Other normative physical therapy required courses include courses in neuroscience, health promotion classes and a year of classes that involve management and administration of a physical therapy department. Pediatric physical therapy and Principles of Motor Control are also physical therapy required courses.

Physical therapists are healthcare professionals who evaluate, plan and administer treatment to patients who experience mobility issues related to injury or disease.
Physical therapists are healthcare professionals who evaluate, plan and administer treatment to patients who experience mobility issues related to injury or disease.

Pathology-based physical therapy required courses make up a large component of a student's schedule. Pathomechanics — the study of abnormal body mechanics secondary to injury — is studied, often in conjunction with normal body movement, or kinesiology. Applied Clinical Medicine courses refer to those that study the application of rehabilitation and health principles to pathology or dysfunction. Integumentary-related classes, pain management courses, instruction on pharmacology and classes in radiology — or reading x-rays — are also completed. In addition, physical therapy students are trained in the use of orthotics and prosthetics.

In-depth human anatomy and human pathology courses are required at the graduate level.
In-depth human anatomy and human pathology courses are required at the graduate level.

Physical therapy required courses include a significant number of clinical hours beginning very early in the program. These courses may be partially completed with clinical research classes and courses known as service learning, but the vast majority of clinical hours take place in physical therapy departments and on the sidelines of athletic events. Here, under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist or physical therapy staff member, students are allowed to practice and refine their skills.

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    • Following their completion of school, physical therapists must take a national exam.
      Following their completion of school, physical therapists must take a national exam.
    • Physical therapists are employed in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals.
      Physical therapists are employed in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals.
    • Physical therapists are healthcare professionals who evaluate, plan and administer treatment to patients who experience mobility issues related to injury or disease.
      Physical therapists are healthcare professionals who evaluate, plan and administer treatment to patients who experience mobility issues related to injury or disease.
    • In-depth human anatomy and human pathology courses are required at the graduate level.
      In-depth human anatomy and human pathology courses are required at the graduate level.
    • Physical therapy required courses include a significant number of clinical hours.
      Physical therapy required courses include a significant number of clinical hours.
    • Aspiring physical therapists may want to earn bachelor’s degree in kinesiology or physical education before continuing on to graduate school.
      Aspiring physical therapists may want to earn bachelor’s degree in kinesiology or physical education before continuing on to graduate school.
    • A physical therapist may choose to work with athletes.
      A physical therapist may choose to work with athletes.