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New Niches in Physical Therapy Practice

New Niches in Physical Therapy Practice

Megan Malugani / Monster Contributing Writer

Emergency/Urgent Care

Although the practice isn’t widespread, PTs have joined the emergency department or urgent-care teams at some hospitals. These therapists work in conjunction with physicians to evaluate and treat patients with low back pain and other acute musculoskeletal and neuromuscular conditions, Duffy says. A PT who initially sees a patient in an emergency department or urgent-care center may also provide follow-up treatment in the community once the patient is released.

Women’s Health

Many physical therapy practices focus solely on women’s health, addressing issues such as incontinence, osteoporosis, post-mastectomy care, and fitness and wellness. Duffy says that such practices are thriving, because many women feel more comfortable addressing sensitive issues with practitioners who specialize in women’s health.

Animal Therapy

A very small but growing number of physical therapists are involved in animal rehabilitation, primarily for horses and dogs. They may work at a specific veterinary clinic or collaborate with several veterinarians. They may also work directly with horse trainers, Duffy says.

Succeeding off the beaten path in PT takes motivation and dedication. Physical therapists or physical therapy students interested in entering a nontraditional PT niche should thoroughly research their area of interest and find a mentor who can both guide them to resources and challenge them, Duffy says. The APTA maintains a list of experienced clinicians willing to serve as mentors. The APTA’s special-interest groups are also available to assist clinicians who want to enter a specialty area or start a small business.

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