What is there to debate? Several sources repeatedly convey similar
information on the care that a physical therapist provides. The Handbook of

Physical Therapy, written by Robert Shestack, Current Physical Therapy, a book
by Malcolm Peat, and “A Future in Physical Therapy,” an internet
publication by The American Physical Therapy Association, have notably parallel
information within them. However, small variations can be found in their
writings. Physical therapy is defined as the treatment of patients’
disabilities from disease and injury to the loss of a body part with therapeutic
exercise, heat, cold, water, light, electricity, ultrasound, or massage (Shestack

3). Through extensive direct contact with patients and other health care
personnel, physical therapists have the opportunity to positively make a
difference in a person’s life (The American Physical Therapy Association 1-2).

Specific education requirements are necessary to fulfill in order to become a
licensed physical therapist. When the education requirements are met, physical
therapists have specific jobs in treating various conditions such as arthritis
and asthma. When entering into a physical therapy program, certain educational
requirements must be met. All colleges and universities insist upon students
wishing to enter into the pre-professional part of the physical therapy program
be high school graduates (Shestack 4-5). According to The American Physical

Therapy Association (APTA), the pre-professional part of schooling includes
psychology, biology, physics, statistics, chemistry, english, professional
writing, and humanities (5). Shestack combines the entire program to include
applied science, anatomy, physiology, neuroanatomy, kinesiology, pathology,
psychology, physics, neurology, orthopedics, pediatrics, surgery,
electrotherapy, massage, physical rehabilitation, and physical therapy as
applied to medicine (4-5). The APTA states the professional part of the physical
therapy program includes basic and clinical medical science courses and
emphasizes the theory through extensive clinical education and a variety of
practice settings (5). The requirements as proposed by both authors are similar,
yet not exact, implying that the requirements are probably quite similar, but
vary most likely from state to state and school to school within those states.

Both sources agree that colleges and universities around the United States are
currently changing their programs from a bachelor’s degree program to a
master’s degree program (APTA 5, Shestack 5). Obviously this fact is true and
schools are in progress in reforming their programs. Arthritis is a commonly
treated illness by physical therapists. Arthritis is an inflammation of a joint
in which a person goes through three stages of severity. These stages are the
acute stage, the subacute stage, and the chronic stage. Physical therapy should
begin at the onset of problems. The therapist should assess the history of the
disease, a joint examination, morning stiffness, grip strength measurement, and
a timed fifty-foot walk (Peat 103). During the acute stage, Peat advises rest,
patient education, ice packs, splinting, and range of motion exercises (104).

Shestack, however, prescribes moist heat for thirty minutes two to three times a
day (94). The difference in techniques is most likely due to the fact that all
patients have different severities of this disease. Not only one technique could
possibly be the only techniques used on all patients. For the subacute stage,

Peat and Shestack agree that maintaining range of motion in the affected joint
is the task of this stage. To do this, specific exercises are taught to the
patient by the therapist according to the particular joint with a problem (Peat

104, Shestack 94). Their agreeance clearly proves that maintaining range of
motion is the most important treatment to give in the subacute stage of
arthritis. Finally, in the chronic stage, Peat recommends to decrease pain in
the joint, increase range of motion for the joint, increase muscle strength, and
improve functional capacity (105). However, Shestack simply advises to apply a
triad of heat, massage, and exercise daily (94). Again, similar to the first
stage, because of differences in patients, there must also be differences in
treating them. Some of Peat’s tasks in treating a client with arthritis could
possibly be carried through by using the triad that Shestack recommends. Asthma
sufferers often seek help from a physical therapist to treat their condition.

Asthma is a respiratory disorder characterized by wheezing, difficulty in
expiration, and a feeling of constriction in the chest. Physical therapy can
provide comfort and help for a patient inflicted with an airway limitation, such
as asthma (Peat 12). A physical therapist can offer breathing exercises to help
improve breathing by strengthening the diaphragm, chest, and back muscles (Shestack

169). Both sources believe the therapists objective when treating a patient with
asthma is to assist the patient with breathing more comfortably, efficiently,
and with less effort. This can be done by mobilizing the trunk of the body,
encouraging coughing, and when breathing forcing the tongue to stick to the roof
of the patient’s mouth (Peat 13, Shestack 169). This treatment is logical. The
treatment for asthma by a physical therapist is obviously black and white. There
is no gray in between. Physical therapists have the ability to truly help people
and make a positive influence in a patient’s life. In several ways, physical
therapists can change the lives of the patients they treat. These ways can vary
from therapist to therapist and from patient to patient according to specific
needs a particular patient may require. There are several educational
requirements to meet before becoming a physical therapist. However, when they
are completed, physical therapists can work with people of all ages everywhere
treating various conditions.

Bibliography

The American Physical Therapy Association. “A Future in Physical

Therapy.” 15 July 1998: Online. Microsoft Internet Explorer. 18 February

1999. Peat, Malcolm. Current Physical Therapy. Philadelphia: B.C. Decker Inc.,

1988. Shestack, Robert. Handbook of Physical Therapy. New York: Springer

Publishing Company, 1977.