Not All Physical Therapists are Created Equal

Did you know that there are specializations in physical therapy just like medicine? 


When a physical therapist graduates with his/her doctorate, they have trained in a wide variety of areas within the field of physical therapy. This may include: pediatrics, neurological conditions, cardiac rehab, pelvic health, orthopaedics and much more. Should a physical therapist want to gain advanced knowledge and training in a specific area, he/she may seek specialization. 



What is the benefit of becoming a specialist?

Specialists typically are extremely up to date on the latest research in physical therapy, incorporating it into their plan of care.


This is important to have the best and most efficient recovery from injuries and surgery.


Physical therapy specialists have also been shown to have excellent skills with differential diagnosis. This means they can pick up when symptoms may be due to orthopaedic issues or something else that presents similarly (i.e. shoulder impingement compared to heart attack). 



How does a physical therapist become specialized?

There are two routes currently for physical therapists to specialize.


After several years of practice and training, a physical therapist may sit for the Certified Specialization Exam (CSE). This is a very rigorous test that typically requires months of studying. Additionally, some CSE’s have additional requirements before testing, such as the Sports Certified Specialization Exam (SCSE). Therapists that sit for the SCSE must have done so many hours of on field athlete management and have some Emergency Medical Responder training.



The alternative method for becoming a specialist is first completing a credentialed residency in the desired area for specialization. For example, Foothills Physical Therapy is the home of the only orthopaedic residency in the state of Idaho (Orthopaedic Residency of Foothills Physical Therapy – ORFPT). Completing a residency requires working full time as a physical therapist, regular 1:1 mentoring with the faculty, advanced didactic and clinical training, working with other specialists, reading, literature review and much more. Following this, the CSE must be passed as well.  


Currently, only about 12% of physical therapists in the country are specialists, and only 6% are orthopaedic specialists. Foothills Physical Therapy currently has 10 specialists on staff throughout our four clinics. These include Orthopaedic and Sports Specialists (OCS and SCS). With the addition of our residency and therapists testing, we hope to be regularly adding to those numbers.


If you have any sort of injury, don’t hesitate to call and make an appointment at any one of our four clinics. 



 -- Chris Fox, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT 

Posted by isabellesiegrist at 4/10/2023 8:00:00 AM
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