Physical Therapist Classes and Courses Overview

Physical therapy classes are typically part of graduate degree programs in this field. Keep reading to learn about topics covered in physical therapy courses.

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Essential Information

A physical therapist helps people recuperate from physical injuries or diseases. These health care professionals also treat and diagnose medical conditions that might hinder proper movement and growth. Physical therapy students study kinesiology, neuroscience, anatomy and physiology. Classes also cover working with pediatric patients as well as those with compromised cardiac or pulmonary systems.

In the United States, a physical therapist must have an advanced degree; therefore, most physical therapist courses are found at the master's and doctoral levels.

Here are some concepts generally examined in physical therapy courses:

  • Anatomy
  • Neuroscience
  • Tissue mechanics
  • Statics
  • Dynamics
  • Reaction forces
  • Pathophysiology
  • Electroneurophysiology

List of Physical Therapy Courses

Kinesiology Course

A kinesiology course gives students an overview of how human movement works normally. The course covers movement topics such as acceleration, force, displacement and torque. Students learn about kinetic forces, along with how the human body moves. Topics in applied kinesiology may also be studied, including muscle strength testing to determine sources of malnutrition or neurological defects.

Neuroscience Course

A neuroscience course covers the functions of the nervous and muscular systems. Students study the life cycle of each system, including diseases that can affect the nerves and muscles. This course also addresses the diagnosis of certain medical conditions and other things that may affect a person's motor control or skills. Students in this course learn to treat neurological or sensory conditions using physical therapy or other medical practices.

Orthopedic Course

In an orthopedic course, students learn about bone, muscle and joint diseases or malfunctions. The course serves to teach students methods for prevention or correction of such problems from a non-surgical and surgical standpoint. Skills developed in this course include identifying symptoms of an orthopedic condition, managing a physical therapy program for orthopedic patients and caring for patients post-operation.

Pediatrics Course

Because physical therapy (PT) is different for younger patients, physical therapy courses specific to pediatrics are usually found in a PT program. Students learn what the expected motor development is for children and how to evaluate problems when they arise. Topics in how to limit disability in a growing patient should a problem occur are also covered. Skills are developed in examining pediatric patients, evaluating their needs and development PT plans to improve functionality.

Musculoskeletal Course

This is a course that usually has multiple levels, as the musculoskeletal system is the powerhouse of movement in the human body, encompassing the skeletal and muscular systems. Students in physical therapist programs or courses will find themselves taking multiple musculoskeletal courses throughout their program. At the introductory level, students learn how to evaluate and treat musculoskeletal injuries and disease. Additional levels of this course will concentrate on specific body parts and areas, such as the lower and upper limbs, spine, neck and feet.

Pulmonary and Cardiovascular Course

This is a course designed to give students the tools to assess patients with cardiovascular (heart) or respiratory (breathing) disorders. Physical therapy treatment specific to conditioning the heart and exercise will be explored. Skills are developed in preparing patients for rehabilitation, corrective breathing techniques, surgical and non-surgical procedures.

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