Need for physical therapists expected to keep increasing
Boston Herald - 08/22/2016
“It’s really a wonderful career, because it’s flexible and you can over time change your career focus,” said Maura Daly Iversen, a professor and chairperson of the Department of Physical Therapy, Movement and Rehabilitation Science at Northeastern University. Daly Iversen said her own career has come to focus heavily on the research side of the field, and much of that has involved proving the effectiveness of physical therapy and movement to treat arthritis pain.
“There was once a fear that exercise could hurt someone with arthritis,” she said, adding that now it’s seen as beneficial to increasing ability and reducing pain.
Physical therapy is also increasingly becoming viewed as an alternative to medication for several other conditions, said Deirdra Murphy, associate dean for undergraduate studies at UMass Lowell’s College of Health Sciences.
“One thing that’s really exciting is when you think about it in relation to the opioid crisis,” Murphy said. Opioid-based drugs, she said, are largely ineffective for lower back pain, but they are often prescribed for it. Physical therapy, on the other hand, “is a really cost-effective alternative to opioids,” she said.
These new applications for physical therapy are also helping to fuel its demand, those in the field say.
And the variety of uses for the therapy is vast.
Jessica Rihm, a 21-year-old physical therapy student in Northeastern University’s accelerated six-year program, said she was introduced to the profession when her brother was receiving care as a baby for a muscular impairment.
“He showed a lot of improvements,” said Rihm, who later, as a teenager, came in contact with the therapist who showed her more about the work.