When you think of long-term care facilities like Far Rockaway Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing, you probably think of all the nurses and aides, and maybe even the administrators and support staff, but you may not consider our physical therapists unless you or someone you love has occasion to interact with them. With a kind word of inspiration and a contagious energy, these skilled specialists play a vital role in both the rehabilitative and the preventative treatment of our patients.

The Physical Therapy field is broken up into a few different levels and titles based on the type of education, training, and certification obtained. In order to earn a valid certification, a therapist must attend a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). The associate degree level certification generally takes around two years (or five semesters) and qualifies a student to become a Physical Therapy Assistant.

To become a certified Physical Therapist, a student must complete the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) curriculum, which is a professional program offered at approximately the master’s degree level. In the past, there were programs that offered a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) or Master of Science in Physical Therapy (MSPT) degree, but those have all been converted to DPT programs. There are programs that permit highly accomplished students to enter the curriculum directly after high school school graduation, but most require that students first obtain a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a related field.

Aside from helping their patients recover from injuries, Physical Therapists and Assistants in long-term care facilities like Far Rockaway Center assist aging patients in maintaining their independence and capabilities through strengthening and preserving flexibility, strength, mobility, and balance. So, the next time you encounter a physical therapist, try to remember to thank them for the time and effort they’ve put into helping your loved ones retain their quality of life level.