Physical or Occupational Therapy Training

Clients are often curious what training Physical or Occupational Therapists go through in our journey to become equipped to help people address pain and mobility issues that are the result of traumatic injuries, chronic conditions, and surgeries.

Physical or Occupational Therapy is an essential field in which those who are interested must be ready and willing to undergo extensive training in a broad range of practice areas. 

Physical or Occupational Therapy programs are a graduate level program embarked upon after completing a 4 year bachelor’s degree.  Most programs run for 2-3 years, and includes academic study followed by clinical residencies where a trainee works in various settings to gain hands-on experience under the observation of a supervisor.

The coursework for many Physical or Occupational Therapy programs include, but are not limited to:

  • Functional anatomy and neurology
  • Pain science
  • Life span development
  • Complex conditions and focused populations
  • Therapeutic exercise and exercise science
  • Assistive devices
  • Health science statistics
  • Athletic injuries
  • Health psychology and motivational interviewing
  • Biopsychosocial determinants of heath and healing
  • Physical therapist assistant procedures and supervision 

The primary goal of the coursework is to provide Physical or Occupational Therapy students with a better understanding of the complex systems the human body is comprised of, how these systems work, and how to help them rejuvenate after an injury, trauma, or surgery. Physical or Occupational Therapy students also acquire extensive knowledge of the emotional and physical effects of pain and mobility problems, as well as how these factors influence treatment approaches in order to help them establish the most effective recovery regimen for each individual patient when they begin working in the field.

After the academic portion of the program has been completed, the residency provides additional experience and training in specialty areas of rehabilitative care. For instance, specialty areas include: cardiovascular and pulmonary, clinical electrophysiology, geriatrics, neurology, orthopedics, pediatrics, sports, and women's health, among others. Certain areas of Physical or Occupational Therapy also focus on providing rehabilitative care for neonates (newborns) such as those with birth defects or physical limitations.

Once the program is complete, the Physical or Occupational Therapy graduate has to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination in order to become licensed and begin working.  Most Physical or Occupational Therapists continue to develop their skill or specialty focus through post graduate training across the lifespan of their careers. A Physical or Occupational Therapist can also further specialize in an advanced clinical area (e.g. integrated musculoskeletal care, neonatal intensive care, or pelvic health), if desired, by completing a fellowship.

Overall, Physical or Occupational Therapists receive specialized training that allows them to thoroughly assess an individual’s physical condition, pain level, motivation for recovery and social determinants of health and wellness, and physical function in order to develop a focused, individualized treatment plan. Physical or Occupational Therapists subsequently use a wide range of skills that were acquired during their program to help individuals build strength, experience less pain, recover quicker, improve their strength, enhance their mobility, and regain their autonomy and quality of life as they recuperate.

A Physical or Occupational Therapist may work in a private office, hospital, nursing home or clinic and may even be part of a rehabilitation team. The main goal is the same - to improve the health, recovery, and quality of life for people in need of high quality pain and mobility management.

People who are suffering from any illness or injury often face significant difficulties with pain management and movement. Similarly, individuals who undergo surgery often require assistance to get back to their daily routine, which means that a number of people depend on Physical or Occupational Therapists to help them recover. If you’ve been struggling with chronic pain or mobility issues, now is the time to speak with one of our Physical or Occupational Therapists at Therapy Specialists Inc.

Let our experts show you how to boost your health and wellness while you recuperate. 


1. Sherrington C, et al. Ten Years of Evidence to Guide Physiotherapy Interventions: Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro). Br J Sports Med. 2010;44(12):836-7.

2. Veras M, et al. What Is Evidence-Based Physiotherapy? Physiother Can. 2016;68(2):95-96.

3. Artz N, et al. Effectiveness of Physiotherapy Exercise Following Total Knee Replacement: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2015;16:15. 

4. Manske RC, Lehecka BJ. Evidence-based medicine/practice in sports physical therapy. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2012;7(5):461-473.

5. Chokshi T, Alaparthi GK, et al. Practice patterns of physiotherapists in neonatal intensive care units: A national survey. Indian J Crit Care Med. 2013;17(6):359-366.

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