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Physical therapists are primary healthcare professionals who may serve elder law attorneys and their clients in a wide range of consultative capacities. There are approximately 120,000 physical therapists in the United States (1) who are licensed, like physicians, pharmacists, and registered nurses, in all fifty states. Their principal domains of practice include clinical healthcare delivery to patients across the life spectrum; basic science and clinical research; education, health policy, and patient advocacy; and global consultative services. Physical therapists are aided by physical therapist assistants, who are licensed in many, but not all, states, and by other healthcare extenders, including exercise physiologists, rehabilitation aides, and others.
Physical therapist education is conducted exclusively at the post-baccalaureate level. While 169 of 196 accredited professional (entry-level) education programs are at the masters-degree level, the trend is toward entry-level professional doctoral education, similar to the Juris Doctorate. The emerging entry-level degree is the Doctor of Physical Therapy, or D.P.T., degree.
Physical therapist education program curricula are similar to those of medical schools, with substantial foundational science instruction (including human anatomy dissection), clinical course work, social sciences and humanities, including professional ethics and legal issues courses. Student physical therapists typically undertake one-half calendar year or more of clinical internships. Progressive curricula also include …