Specializations Available to Physical Therapists Specialists

Specializations Available to Physical Therapists Specialists

Physical Therapists in Birmingham AL provide hands-on care to help patients reduce pain and swelling in their bodies. These professionals treat patients in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics and fitness centers.

In the past, most PTs had a master’s degree; now, almost all programs require a doctorate in physical therapy (DPT). Several of these degrees have a clinical specialization.

Sports Medicine

In the field of sports medicine, physicians who specialize in this area promote physical activity for all ages and encourage healthy lifestyles. They work with professional and amateur athletes, coaches, and other staff to manage injury and illness. They also advise on proper training techniques and help athletes prepare for competitions.

Physicians specializing in sports medicine usually have extensive education, including degrees in the fields of exercise science, biology, kinesiology, and athletic training. Many have internships in high school and college athletic departments.

There is a debate over whether or not there is a need for more physicians who have specific expertise in treating sports injuries, particularly concussions. Currently, these specialists are often called upon to clear athletes for resuming play. Having an understanding of their role can help patients navigate the health care system and ensure that they get the best possible treatment.

Women’s Health

Women’s health is a relatively new area of expertise for physical therapists. It encompasses a range of conditions that impact women differently than men, including pelvic pain, urinary incontinence, osteoporosis and breast cancer recovery.

Many women are hesitant to bring up pelvic problems with their healthcare providers, so they don’t receive the treatment they need. However, conditions like incontinence, pelvic pain and lymphedema can be relieved through physical therapy, often without the need for surgery or long-term prescription medications.

Women’s health specialists at Rusk Rehabilitation are trained in pregnancy-related back pain, pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence. They also address osteoporosis, which is a condition that causes the bones to become brittle and more prone to fractures, and uterine fibroids.


Orthopedics (or-tho-PEE-dist) is health care that corrects problems and injuries involving our bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This includes conditions such as arthritis and sports injuries.

Good physical therapists know how different body systems integrate with movement and will often examine more than the area of your pain or dysfunction. They may also use interventions like massage, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound to help improve your condition.

There are two board-certified PT specialties that you might want to look for: orthopedic and women’s health. Both are growing practice areas and can open doors for you professionally. A woman’s health certification can also enhance your client-therapist relationship, which is key in many of these sensitive treatment areas. This is especially true when working with pelvic conditions.


Pediatrics is all about the health, growth and development of children from birth to age 21. As a specialist, you’ll focus on assessing, detecting, preventing and managing conditions that affect kids, including diseases, trauma and injuries.

Your job as a pediatric therapist will include working to improve mobility, alleviate pain, develop or restore function and prevent or decrease permanent physical disabilities in kids. You’ll also use techniques to help kids cope with and manage their pain in a way that makes them feel better.

Treatments could include vestibular therapy to reduce balance problems; aquatic therapy or hydrotherapy that uses warm water to increase strength, range of motion and walking patterns; decongestive therapy to help drain fluid that has accumulated in patients with lymphedema; and pelvic floor rehabilitation for bladder and bowel control issues and bowel dysfunction.


Neurological physical therapy is a specialization that encompasses the evaluation and treatment of individuals with movement problems resulting from disease or injury of the nervous system. This type of PT can help patients regain some of their lost movement, so they can live independently again.

In this specialty, a therapist works with people who have suffered from traumatic brain injuries or other conditions that affect the brain and nerves, such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, concussion, or spinal cord trauma. These PTs may also use techniques like biofeedback, where electrodes are placed on the skin to display measurements of muscle activity on a screen.

A newer specialization in PT is women’s health, where therapists work with female patients of all ages. This can include treating pelvic pain and helping pregnant or post-partum women recover from childbirth.