Over the years, many new specialties have emerged within the field of physical therapy. Currently, the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) recognizes nine official physical therapy specialties. However, a unique and new addition has been made to the family. It is still undergoing development and establishment. We will explore this and all of the recognized specialties in this article.
The American Physical Therapy Association is a professional organization made up of a membership of thousands of various physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, and students of physical therapy. They are governed by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. This is the organization responsible for organizing exams, procedures, segmentations, and codes guiding the various specialty branches of the physical therapy professional career.
Why a physical therapist chooses to pursue a specialty is not always known. Often this decision comes from personal motivation. Though sometimes, the decision is based upon a need that is not being met in their area. This is a good thing because their freedom of choice makes physical therapists who love their work and are fulfilled in what they do. Alex Klurfeld is an example of an exceptional physical therapist who puts his very soul in his practice and service to the patients he treats.
This benefits the clients/patients in the long run because they get to skip grumpy professionals who would force their treatment and instead enjoy the services and passion of a professionally trained physical therapy specialist.
Physical therapy specialization comes with many benefits for both the specialist and the patient. Since the inception of certification for board-certified physical therapy specialists in 1985, thousands of physical therapists have achieved certification. This has resulted in many benefits to the patients seeking these specialized services.
Some of these benefits include:
1. Becoming a specialist takes you closer to what you love and are passionate about, allowing you to explore and upgrade your knowledge from being simply a general practitioner of the craft.
2. When you specialize, you immediately receive acknowledgment for your superior understanding of your area of practice. This sets you apart and creates a path of uniqueness for impact and significant contribution.
3. The commitment to your unique area of physical therapy enables patients with conditions and issues in that area to have access to your expertise in those areas of care. This happens through referral sources who send these patients your way for specialized treatment and attention.
4. Specialization is a chartered pathway to becoming an academic leader in your area of practice. Specialization in your field of interest opens you up to continuous improvement of patient care through research, training, and becoming part of a community that works together for the common good of the health industry.
As stated earlier, there are currently ten specialty areas approved by the American Clinical Specialisation Program guided and governed by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialisation.
They are as follows:
1. Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Clinical Specialist—This was the first board-certified physical therapy specialization established in 1981. When a physical therapist specializes in this program, they become a cardiovascular and pulmonary specialist. This group of specialists are trained to treat patients who have, have had, and are recovering from heart and lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart surgeries, or heart attacks.
2. Orthopedic Physical Therapy—An orthopedic clinical specialist, as they are referred to, treats patients with injuries and severe conditions in the muscles, joints, bones, ligaments, and tendons. Other treatment options they attend include recovery from surgery and musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis. This specialization category is popular among physical therapy practices due to the various opportunities it offers its clients.
3. Pediatric Physical Therapy—This category of specialists focuses their unique knowledge on treating kids from newborns to teenagers, such as autism, cerebral palsy, and others.
4. Sports Physical Therapist—Board-certified clinical specialists in sports physical therapy are experts who exclusively treat athletes (both amateurs and professionals). The scope of their treatment specialization covers injury management, rehabilitation, and others.
5. Clinical Electrophysiologic Physical Therapy—This specialist group surfaced in 1982 after a number of the specialization programs had been approved in 1981. They are experts in treating nerve and muscle damage conditions that lesions or wounds may have caused.
6. Neurologic Physical Therapy—While various physical therapists may be found in multiple locations and centers due to the variant nature of their work, Neurology Clinical specialists are usually found in rehabilitation centers and hospitals. This may be due to the kind of conditions they treat, including neurological disorders, injuries, and impairments.
7. Geriatric Physical Therapy—This group of clinical specialists meets the specific physical needs of senior citizens. Some of the conditions they typically treat are progressive neurological diseases and musculoskeletal disorders.
8. Women’s Health Physical Therapy—As the name implies, this is one of the more recent specialization programs centered on physical therapy diagnosis and treatment of women’s health. Some of the conditions they treat include pelvic pain, pregnancy management, amongst others.
9. Oncologic Physical Therapy—Oncology specialists are trained to work with patients recovering from or undergoing treatment for cancer. They help manage chronic pain weaknesses and such conditions for cancer patients.
10. Wound Management Physical Therapy—This specialized form of physical therapy is the most recent and developing addition to the family. This specialty focuses on treating wounds of both deep and superficial nature and other body system complications.
Many physical therapists strive to further their practice to specialize and gain a more profound knowledge or status in the industry. But unfortunately, there are few therapists like Alex Klurfeld who go the extra mile for the sake of his clients or patients. Before you engage their services, please get to know your physical therapist, their specialty, and their commitment to your well-being. Look for a physical therapist that will listen to your needs and concerns, has the education and experience to treat your condition, and specializes in the area of expertise that you need.