Deciphering the

Different Types of Hours Needed to Become a Physical Therapist

It is essential to rotate through different Physical Therapy disciplines on your journey to become a therapist. Experiencing multiple areas gives you the tools to face different situations and helps you decide on what to specialize in.

However, you can get a good idea about these disciplines and the types of Clinical Education Hours you will undergo to achieve your goal early on throughout the observation hours.


Although there are no special requirements regarding the place where you will do your Physical Therapy Observation Hours, it would be wise to choose one with a discipline that you may find interesting. As a result, you can enjoy the process behind, understand your tasks, and experience the difference between the multiple options.

We will explain in this article the different types of hours and how to get observation hours for PT.

How Do I Get Observation Hours for PT?

If you are looking to get observation hours, you can look at different places that offer the service. You can find them by looking online or asking at your local clinic. You can also ask some friends who are currently studying for a recommendation, as they may know where the best places could be.

Another thing that you should consider is the discipline you may want to get your observation hours on. Finding a program that allows you to choose from different specializations, such as ours, can help you explore more alternatives and achieve a deeper understanding of Physical Therapy.

There is a wide range of disciplines to choose from, such as:

Outpatient Orthopedic

This is one of the most common types of Physical Therapy. Thereby, Outpatient Orthopedics means that the individual reaches his local clinic looking for therapy intended to treat any musculoskeletal injury.

This type of Physical Therapy is where you will find a wider range of patients and treatments, ranging from 7 years old patients with a lesser injury to geriatric people suffering from chronic conditions.

The treatment options performed in this type of therapy will depend on the patient’s condition and case. Same as with age, there is a wide variety of alternatives. They can range from something simple as alleviating back pain or increasing the range of motion to more complex treatments, such as joint replacement or postoperative therapy.

Moreover, the main goal of Outpatient Orthopedics is to help the patients fix the lesions they could have in the clinic, so they can recover and get back to normality in the shortest time possible.

Homecare Physical Therapy  

This type of therapy is performed at home. However, there are a few special conditions patients must fulfill to qualify for this alternative.

Homecare therapies are only performed on people who are unable to leave their houses. This could be due to the safety risk it implies to the patients or limited functional mobility that prevents them from moving.

These patients are usually older people who have suffered from a condition that weakens them, leaving them unable to perform basic movements. The therapies usually consist of restoring their ability to sit, stand, and walk to help them leave their home to eventually finish the treatment at the clinic.

Pediatric Physical Therapy

This type of therapy refers to the age of the population treated. However, there is more to it than that, as the treatments are adapted to young patients to make them fun, didactic, and interesting.

Every individual between 0 and 21 years can be treated through Pediatric Physical Therapy. In this case, the therapist usually examines the child’s movements while playing to assess the issue and design a treatment plan.

The treatments are often modified to be disguised as games to motivate them instead of a repetitive movement pattern.

Furthermore, the pediatric therapist can give tips and advice to the parents regarding common injuries and conditions they may suffer, teaching them what to do in certain circumstances.

Acute Care Physical Therapy

Acute Care is related to emergencies that must be treated immediately, and the service is usually provided at hospitals.

These patients often need to stay overnight to treat the condition and either cure the patient, or get them to become medically stable. This gives time for the therapist to determine the fall risk and safety levels of the patient.

The goal of Acute Care Physical Therapy is to evaluate the patients safety, fall risk and determine where the patient is best suited to go once he/she is discharged from the hospital. These places include going home, skilled nursing facilities, inpatient rehab, etc.  

Another goal for acute care PT’s is early mobility. Once the patient is medically stable, it is important to mobilize them early, get them up and walking (if able) to prevent comorbidities such as pressure ulcers, DVT, PE’s or other life threatening conditions. Sometimes, laying immobile in a hospital bed can be worse for the patients condition than simply getting them up to walk for 5-10 minutes.

Inpatient Physical Therapy

This often refers to rehab centers where the patients need to stay overnight.

The patient must be able to withstand 3 hours of high intensity exercise 5-7 days/week for approximately 5 weeks or more.  As it involves staying more than a month at the rehab center, this type of therapy is reserved for patients who have suffered from severe trauma such as spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke, etc.

The goal of this therapy is to help them recover as soon as possible, to be able to be safely discharged home.

Neuro Physical Therapy

Neuro therapies involve neurological and neuromuscular conditions.

The goal of these therapies is to correct brain patterns and behaviors through the use of motor learning principles. This allows re-educating the brain function, aiming to regain physiological function in the desired way.

To determine the treatment and assess the injury, the therapist examines the patient’s neurophysical abilities, such as bed mobility, the capacity to transfer to a different surface, and the ability to ambulate.

Sports Physical Therapy

These therapies are related to athletes and sports practitioners, evaluating and assessing the body integrally to examine the quality of the movements performed and their activities.

As a result, Sports Physical Therapy not only treats injuries but also helps athletes to improve their skills. Meanwhile, they prevent lesions that could risk their career and health.

Start & Finish Your Virtual PT Observation Hours Today!

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