Different Types of Therapy Staffing
- By: Ellen Laflamme
Walk through the corridors of any large-scale hospital or medical facility and you will undoubtedly see signs directing you to various therapy departments. There's physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, respiratory therapy, and recreational therapy. These signs are helpful to those who know what they're looking for, but for the rest of us, what do these words mean? The following is a breakdown of the typical therapy staffing positions at most major medical facilities.
The most well-know form of therapy staffing is the position of physical therapist. The physical therapist (PT) is a trained medical professional whose mission is to diagnose and treat individuals with impaired mobility or use of one or more extremities. Common patients of a PT would be those receiving surgical rehabilitation, victims of brain injury, the elderly, suffers of chronic musculoskeletal diseases, accident victims, and athletes. Along with a physical therapist assistant (PTA) the PT hopes to restore as much mobility and range of motion through exercise and muscle retraining.
The next type of therapy staffing is known as occupational therapy. This medical profession is aimed at restoring the ability of the patient to function at a normal level, or to a level as close as possible. The word "occupational" implies that the strategies and therapies used by the licensed practitioner involve every-day activities. Occupational therapists strive to achieve patient functionality by training them to do household chores, hold jobs, and participate in certain leisure activities.
Though the word "pathology" is generally used to denote the study and diagnosis of disease, speech pathologists are as much therapists as the previous two. Therapy staffing includes speech pathology because the mission of the pathologist includes developing and implementing strategies to help the patient overcome his disability. The speech pathologist is a student of all forms of communication, both verbal and non-verbal, and is able teach patients how to overcome language challenges.
Respiratory therapy is a bit different from the others in the therapy staffing category in that more often than not it deals with acute situations rather than chronic. The job of the respiratory therapist to treat individuals whose respiratory system is in distress. You will find such individuals in emergency rooms, operating rooms, intensive care units, emergency transportation units, and so on. Where respiratory therapists treat chronic conditions, it's usually things like asthma or bronchial pneumonia.
Undoubtedly the most controversial of all therapy staffing positions is that of recreational therapist. The recreational therapist takes elements from many other fields such as anatomy, physiology, and ethics, to treat those with functional disabilities. Recreational therapy tends to focus more on the metal aspect of disability rather than the physical, and uses recreational activity as a means of promoting wellness, independence, and functionality through increased confidence and self-esteem.
Finally, Chiropractic is sometimes thought of as therapy staffing in various medical facilities. Chiropractic practitioners have been pushing for facilities to categorize them with pediatricians, surgeons, and the like.
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